6 Tips for Honestly Asking for What You Need

Recently I saw a sign on my neighbor’s lawn that read, “Santa, please stop here.” I loved the honesty of the request, and it made me smile. Later, I wondered why we make things so complicated for ourselves, and if there is a way to simplify the process of getting what we want. Think of how much easier life could be if we all just asked for what we needed. So, why don’t we do it? And how can we get better at asking?

I learned this lesson from my own experience. My husband is a wonderful, loving man and we have been blissfully married for more than 20 years. But he doesn’t naturally give out compliments. Early on in our marriage it used to upset me. Then I learned that there was an easy way to get a compliment. No digging. I just said, “Say something nice to me.” He immediately responded with something lovely. We laughed, and I felt happy. It’s been a tradition for many years and has become a private joke. But you know what, it really works. It’s just like that Santa sign.

So in this coming year, I plan to be more direct about what I need and want in other circumstances as well. It’s going to be a little experiment. I will ask for what I need and wait for others to ask for what they need before I offer to help.

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Here are some steps I am going to take to get clear on what I want and how I will ask for what I want. Let’s do it together and make 2016 a remarkable year.

What do I want? For most of us, life is like a moving train as soon as we wake up. The train is whirling by and you have to jump on as soon as your day begins. The speed and busyness of our lives can make it difficult to unplug and think about what we want, but doing so can really give us clarity. With both of my girls in college, I have the luxury to take 30 minutes of quiet time in the morning to hear my thoughts. I journal and meditate. Slowing down allows me to hear that inner voice that knows exactly what I want. Can you carve out 30 minutes of your day devoted just for you?

Make a list. I plan to capture ideas and desires everyday. Once I identify some of the things I want, I am going to make a list. I’ve realized I need to get specific on the outcome I want to be clear when I ask. From now on, I will write down what I want or need and who can help me get there. Maybe you want to ask for a raise, ask for a referral, ask your spouse for more date nights, ask someone to be your mentor or ask a respected colleague for their input on a project. Whatever you need, jot it down. Seeking clarity inspires action, and it eliminates any miscommunication.

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Be open and clear. No more hints, suggestions, bribes or passive/aggressive asking for me. My resolution is not to expect others to figure out what I need with innuendo. Now I will no longer be hurt when someone can’t read my mind or pick up on my hints. We don’t have to make things so complicated, do we? Rather than expecting anyone to become a mind reader who fulfills my needs without my asking, I plan to give voice to what I need. Let’s all ask directly in the year ahead. If that doesn’t come naturally to you, practice with something small and then move on to the bigger asks.

Know you are worth it. Part of being able to ask for what you want is knowing you deserve receiving it. Tell yourself you are worth it. If you think you need a little boost in feeling like you are worth it, take a moment and list all of your awesome qualities. Give your list a quick read each morning and soon enough you will raise your deserve level. Why not Me? Why not YOU?

Think of what you can give. Zig Ziglar once said, “You can have everything you want in life if you will just help enough other people get what they want.” I love this quote because it’s about relationship-building and authentically giving to others when they ask for help. Train yourself to listen to what others need and want; do not decide for them. Use your skills and special strengths to give to others what they ask for, and watch the magic that happens as a result.

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Be okay with hearing no. If you are brave enough to ask for what you want, give yourself credit for the asking. If your request is met with a “No” don’t dwell on it. You may not realize it at the time, but being turned down is actually good for us. It can help us know where we stand instead of guessing and wondering.

Imagine how amazing you can make this New Year if no one has to guess what you want, including you. Be courageous. Live the life you want and ask for what you need to make that happen. Part of the challenge for women is that we are accustomed and socialized to put the needs of others before our own. Oftentimes we are so focused on running around and doing things for other people that we don’t pause long enough to assess our own needs. And let’s face it, we are pretty good at taking on a lot, so asking for help isn’t our natural tendency. If we are truly going to get better at asking for what we want, we first have to get better at knowing what we want. I am certain that improving our ability to ask can enhance every aspect of our lives — our marriages, careers and our personal lives.

Will you join me in this experiment for the New Year?

© Fauzia Burke, author of Online Marketing for Busy Authors

{Image credit: Gratisography}

About the Author

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Fauzia Burke is the founder and president of FSB Associates, an online publicity and marketing firm specializing in creating awareness for books and authors. She's the author of Online Marketing for Busy Authors (Berrett-Koehler Publishers, April 2016). Fauzia has promoted the books of authors such as Alan Alda, Arianna Huffington, Deepak Chopra, Melissa Francis, S. C. Gwynne, Mika Brzezinski, Charles Spencer and many more. A nationally recognized speaker and online branding expert, Fauzia writes for the Huffington Post, MariaShriver.com and MindBodyGreen. For online marketing, book publishing and social media advice, follow Fauzia on Twitter (@FauziaBurke) and Facebook (Fauzia S. Burke). For more information on the book, please visit: www.FauziaBurke.com.

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