People frequently don’t ask for what they want. Fear of rejection is often the reason for this. Believing that it is wrong to ask for anything or that we’re asking for too much can also prevent us from obtaining what we really need or want. A subconscious belief that we don’t deserve something because we are not good enough can also prevent us from asking for what we want or need. What is the worst thing that can happen if we ask? The worst thing that can possibly happen is to hear a ‘no’. Learn how to ask, and take some risks!

How to ask

Nobody instinctively knows what others want, so don’t resent having to ask for what you want or need. It may feel as though you are showing weakness by having to ask for something, but it is actually self-empowering to ask for what you want; it will allow you to do your job better.

Give brief but accurate reasons for why you want or need something. Also—if necessary—explain the probable consequences of not getting what you need or want. Either of these explanations could have an influence on a positive answer and might sway the decision-maker to let you have what you need.

You have the right to ask for what you need or want, but you don’t have the right to demand it. Respect the other person’s decision and don’t try to nag them into submission. Sometimes the answer will simply be ‘no’ and you must respect and accept that. You may, however, respectfully ask the person whether it is possible for them to explain the reasons for their decision.

Always have an alternative plan in case you don’t get what you asked for. Don’t spend too much time brooding over what you don’t have or cannot get. If necessary, go after your second choice—it may even turn out to be a better option.

Remember to show your appreciation if you get what you have asked for. It may influence the person to help you again.

Do not complain instead of asking for what you need. We tend to complain far too readily instead of asking for what we want. For example, complaining about the copier being out of paper ‘again…!’ may make you feel better, but it won’t get you the outcome you want. What you would really like is for the person who last used the photocopier to have refilled it. Ask for what you want by using positive, action-related words. Add a ‘so that…’. For example: ‘Please fill the copier with paper when it’s empty, so that we can share the work-load fairly.’ You will get more cooperation from others this way. If you don’t tell people—respectfully—that there’s a problem, how are they to know?