How To Get Exactly What You Need At Work

Photo: `Monkey Business Photography / 
woman at work

Want to get what you need in relationships and at work? It’s as simple as asking.

Yet, so many of us don’t ask for what we want. 

A failure to ask is nothing new in human history. James in the Bible stated, “You do not have because you do not ask.”

As in any personal or professional relationship, there is an art to effective communication. How and when you ask is just as important as what you're asking.

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It's better to ask for what you need at work than to settle for what they give

It’s a common story in today’s workplace and in our relationships outside of work. Instead of asking for what we want, we assume.

Somehow it feels safer to embrace our assumptions than overcome our fear of asking. 

On the other hand, asking for what you need can make you feel like you're being too direct. But if you want something badly enough, feel the fear and ask anyway. 

The next time you’re in assumption mode, take control of the situation. Just because you’re doing great work doesn’t mean a promotion will fall into your lap.

When you advocate for yourself, you’re much more likely to be successful.

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Think through how to ask

To increase your chances of successfully getting what you want, it’s critical that you thoroughly think it through. This is especially true if what you’re asking for is important to you. 

For example, do you want to pitch a promotion to your boss? Ask for more money? Propose working solely from home? To create a new position on your team? 

For our purposes, let’s stick with one example: asking for a promotion. 

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Here are ten ways to prepare for and make a big request at work

1. Consider what makes your request important to you

What would a promotion do for you? What would be different if you were promoted? Perhaps you’re stagnating and need a new challenge.

Is the financial aspect the biggest attraction? The prestige?

Take time to clarify your intention.

What will it mean if you don’t get it? Then what will you do?

2. Clarify your objective

What is the message you want to convey? Make it as clear as you can to yourself before trying to explain it to your boss. 

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3. Visualize a successful outcome

Imagine you’re in a meeting. Visualize how you want to feel. Think of the positive response of your boss, the smile, the handshake after you’ve clearly communicated your ask and it was warmly received.

4. Know your audience

Before you set up the meeting, remember who you’re speaking with. If they’re busy and hard to pin down, you’ll need to get to your point quickly.

The same goes if they like to talk a lot.

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5. State how they could benefit

Think of all the angles and prepare for objections. Also, be sure to demonstrate your ability to see the big picture by looking at how a promotion could benefit them.

Will it take away some of their pressure? Will it meet a bigger corporate objective more quickly?

6. Prepare and practice

Treat this meeting as you would a major presentation in front of a large audience. You may not get many opportunities to pitch yourself, so make it count by being thoroughly prepared.

That means rehearsing your pitch out loud at least twice before you meet.

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7. Own it — pick the place and time 

This is your meeting, so think strategically. Accordingly, choose a situation and location that is to your advantage.

Will this be over coffee outside the office or will it be in your office or theirs? Would it be better to meet by Zoom?

8. Keep it professional

Keep your emotions in check and be ready to know how you will respond to a “no” or “not now.”

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9. Get a commitment or clear answer

If you get a “not now," be prepared to ask when. Be clear from the first step about what you’ll accept.

Furthermore, If they want to kick the decision down the road, pick a reasonable date to meet again and get a commitment.

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10. Be persistent 

If they made a commitment, hold them to it. You made this meeting happen, prepare to push for another.

Remember the time frame you gave yourself for your ask to be granted. What were you prepared to do if you didn’t get it?

Will you intensify your job search? Leave and ramp up your side hustle?

If you’ve thought this through, the answer you get will be an indicator of what to do next. Stick with your goals.

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Brent Roy, PCC, CMC, is a certified executive, career and personal development coach who will help you to increase your confidence and prepare you for promotion or a new career.