How To Ask for What You Want and Need
How many GREAT things do you think would flow into your life if you simply asked for them?
I mean, explicitly asked.
Maybe you would get:
- The support you need
- A raise or promotion
- A game-changing opportunity
- Better projects
- The time you need to create and deliver an outstanding result
- More respect
Now, consider what happens when you don’t ask for what you want and need:
- Doing everything yourself
- Feeling undervalued
- Being busy, busy, busy
As a recovering I-can-do-it-all-myself-er, I can attest to the fact that when we learn how to ask for what we want and need without fear or shame, all kinds of opportunities, feedback, support, and abundance come our way.
I went for a walk with a past client who has since become a friend. This woman is a powerhouse and inspiration (you can check out our Instagram live here). As we walked and talked, she shared all the amazing things she’s making happen in her life (including writing her first novel) and asked me about what was going on in my world. I told her how fired up I am about adding an ADHD coaching string to my current business coaching bow and she was curious. As I talked about just how many brilliant creative and entrepreneurial people I work with who have ADHD and how that aligns with my mission to help people who are creative by nature be profitable by design, she got excited too. “This should be a book!” she said "You should do talks and workshops about this. How can I help? And so, we started brainstorming exactly how she could help.
If I hadn’t put it out there, I never would have been able to ask for, and gratefully accept, her offer of help.
Contrary to what many of us believe about asking for what we want, we’re not taking from people, we’re giving them the opportunity to co-create with us if they wish. Notice there’s no expectation on our part and complete free will on their part. If they’re not able or willing to help, that’s OK too. Then it’s just an enriching conversation.
If you’re ready to start asking for what you need without seeming entitled, here are 3 ways to go about it.
1) Know what you want
You can’t ask for something you’re not clear about or aligned with. Let’s say you want to get paid more for the value you deliver, but the thought of raising your rates just makes you sick. How do you get from being terrified to ask to having a client happily agree to your top-dollar fee? Here are a few ways you might break this particular challenge down:
- Be crystal clear on what your desired number is and do whatever homework you need to feel good about that number prior to the ask. It is your responsibility, not the other party’s, to figure out what serves you best.
- Be clear on why you want to make that amount of money. Is it because you know you’re undercharging for the value you deliver? Is it because you want to work with fewer better clients so you can spend more time with your family? Is it because you got a late start saving for retirement and want to build that nest egg, stat? There are no wrong answers and you don’t have to justify your reason to anyone. But you do need to know why it matters to you.
- Be clear on the value you deliver and be prepared to articulate it (note, this is different from having to justify yourself). How are you uniquely qualified to help them? (This is not necessarily a formal qualification.) What will your clients or customers get? How will it benefit them and help them reach their goal or solve their problem? What will happen if they don’t take action or hire someone cheaper? If people see the value, they will pay.
2) Identify who is in a position to help
Not everyone is in a position to help you and vice versa. Let’s say you’re a website designer and you’re in the position to send business to your friend Marge, a web developer. Most of Marge’s business is a result of referrals that came from you. Nice job! But perhaps Marge isn’t able to send clients your way because clients aren’t coming to her first, they’re coming to you. But, hold up, Bob the branding designer IS able to send clients your way. Support and help aren’t a quid pro quo deal. When you freely offer support with no expectation of return, you set the stage for others to do the same for you. Win-win!
Action step (a): Figure out the people who are able to support you
Action step (b): Identify people who you can support with no expectations of a return
3) Make it short, sweet, and reciprocal
Because we’re often uncomfortable with asking for things, we tend to make heavy weather of it. Let’s say you’re reaching out to your network because you just launched a new service and you want them to spread the word. Don’t write an essay they then have to wade through before you even get to the request. My coach, Lena West, has a great format, which I’d love to share with you:
Hi (first name),
I hope you’re doing well (personal note here).
I’m reaching out because I’ve got a couple of openings for (service) retainers right now and wondered if you knew of anyone who might be looking for that kind of support.
Let me know if I can reciprocate and send any particular referrals your way.
Either way, I’d love to catch up soon. Maybe we could set up a virtual coffee date.
If they want more information, they’ll ask for it. At that point, you give them the details they asked for. Notice the offer to reciprocate.
I’m curious, what’s your biggest takeaway from this article? What aspect resonates most with you? I’d recommend starting there. And remember baby steps. Asking for what we want and need requires a whole lotta unlearning, so take it slow. I can’t wait to see what beautiful co-creations and collaborations await you!