Ask for It

November 13th 2017

Thousands of conversations with people just like you have taught me that even the most educated and experienced people have great difficulty asking for what they want. 

Managers continue to run ineffective teams because they don’t know how to ask individuals in their group to do better. Team members gnaw at the cultural foundation with gossip and complaints because they don’t know how to ask for better treatment from co-workers. Leaders live in a constant state of irritation because they don’t know how to ask partners to participate in the business of the firm. 

The results of not asking for what you want:

  • Unmet expectations, because they are unspoken
  • Fractured relationships, because they are unclear from the outset 
  • Broken trust because it is lost in consistently poor communication

Nearly always, one of the two parties involved in miscommunication is utterly clueless as to any transgression or difficulty. This person simply had no idea he was hurting someone, or being unclear, or failing to adequately describe expectations. While he is in the dark about all this, the other party feels all kinds of negativity. Often, that negativity spills into other professional relationships. As office drama spins upward, productivity, camaraderie, and general happiness fall. 

It doesn’t have to be this way. We all know the only person you can fully control is yourself; do that by asking for what you want. Take the initiative. Start the conversation only after your negative feelings (anger, embarrassment, hurt, etc.) have subsided. Ask for some time when the two of you can talk. Describe your emotions surrounding something specific and relevant. Ask that person to work with you to improve the situation. If you need an apology, ask for it. If you need a change in behavior, ask for that, too. Be specific. Be as calm as you can. Make the communication or behavior the issue rather than the person.

Will you always get what you want? No. But I know one thing for sure: you’ll never get it if you don’t ask.

communication, happiness, professional development


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