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The Art of Asking

“You get in life what you have the courage to ask for.” – Oprah Winfrey

Have you ever wanted something but felt challenged in figuring out how to ask for it?  Do you know what it is about “the ask” that is challenging for you?

Chances are you have found yourself in this situation at some point in time – maybe even right now. 

Many of us go through this professionally throughout our careers.  Perhaps you want a raise? A promotion? A more flexible work schedule? More resources to help support your workload?  A different role?

You may find yourself in this position in your personal life as well – where you want to ask something of someone but are stuck in figuring out how to make the request.  Perhaps you would like help with a task? Someone to listen? Or maybe you simply want to ask for something to stop occurring?

No matter the ask, personally or professionally, if it’s weighing on you then there is some level of significance that makes your request important to you.

There can be a multitude of barriers in asking for what you want.  What are yours specifically?  If you know your barriers it becomes easier to deconstruct them.

What is holding you back from asking? 

A few common barriers are:

  • A fear of not getting what you want
  • Assumptions you have already made about the response based on past experiences
  • Asking makes you look vulnerable

You may have more, or other, obstacles as it relates to what is holding you back but those listed above can be some of the biggies.

Either way, once you know your barriers it’s time to tackle them head on, debunk and remove them.

Let’s use the first one – fear of not getting what you want – as an example…

Fear, which is completely natural, can cause you to overthink and assign more significance or likelihood to a worst-case scenario.  It can leave you more susceptible to overreaction and make it difficult to separate from emotions…which can lead you to stay in a state of “not asking.”  Not helpful!

Let’s flip the perspective on fear.

  • What factual evidence do you have that supports the truth that you won’t get what you want?  Assumptions are not based on factual evidence so don’t get caught in that trap, stick to the facts (wink wink). 
  • Besides hearing no or being rejected, what is the true worst-case scenario that could ensue from making your ask?  What is the likelihood of that worst-case scenario actually happening?
  • What further hardship or cost comes to you by not asking?  Think about this…by not asking, what has no shot of changing and what impact does no change have on you?

Now what happens when you allow yourself to consider the alternative, where you do get what you want?

  • What impact does getting what you want have on you?  Think of ALL the ways.
  • How does getting what you want as a result of that particular ask shift your perspective on other things you may want in life?
  • What else do you deserve to ask for?
  • How might those asks change or impact your life further?

The art of asking is not easy.  Asking often takes a shift in mindset and starts with awareness…and that takes practice!  Knowing what is holding you back is key to understanding how to move forward.  Flipping the perspective on your barriers and questioning their existence can be a powerful way to debunk those limiting beliefs!