How to Ask for What You Want

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I knew “Angela” had been on a job interview, so I was eager to hear how it went during our next coaching session.


“It went well,” she said. “They offered me the job and a good compensation package, and I accepted.”

“That’s great!” I replied. “But you don’t sound terribly excited about it. What’s the problem?”

“Well, when I told my boss I was leaving, she surprised me by countering with a huge salary increase. I’m ready for the career change                and I really want the new position but I can’t afford to pass up the money,” she explained.

“So go back to the new place and negotiate,” I shrugged.

“But I already accepted the first offer,” she protested. “I can’t go back now and demand more, can I?”

“Who said anything about demanding?” I asked. “This is what negotiation is all about. At this point, you have nothing but                 an oral acceptance; it’s not like they already sent you a signing bonus. The simple fact is that the conditions have changed. Go back                  and respectfully – but not apologetically – tell them the truth, and let them know what you’d need from them to be able to take              the position.”


We brainstormed a list of other “need to have” and “nice to have” items, ranging from basic salary numbers all the way down to a new home-office desk chair.


The next time we met, Angela’s excitement was practically bursting through the screen.


“I can’t believe it!” she exclaimed. “I was up front with them, explained the situation, and shared the list we made. And you know what?             They gave meEVERYTHING I asked for! Even the chair!”

“Wow! Congratulations!” I said. “I’m so happy for you.”

“But you know what the best part was?” she continued. “When we were done, the HR person actually said to me, ‘I’m glad you came              back and continued the negotiation. A lot of people – especially women– are afraid to ask for what they want. Good              for you.’”


That fear of asking for what we want is not limited to salary/job negotiation; it can even be asking for smaller things like asking someone to make corrections or revisions to their work, approval to take a day (or even a half-day) off for personal matters, or simply saying “no” to someone else’s request for you to help them with another task when your calendar is already bursting at the seams.


It is just as prevalent in personal relationships, such as asking for help.


All too often we are afraid to ask for what we need or want because we’re afraid, deep down, of rejection and judgment.


Nobody likes to hear “no,” but beyond that, our inner critic can get vicious with what it whispers in our ear:

You’ll sound greedy, selfish, arrogant, and just downright rude!

         They won’t like you anymore.

         Who do you think you are to ask for that?

         They’ll get angry with you.

         You’ll just embarrass yourself.


But more often than not, these worst-case scenarios are in our minds alone, and it IS possible to get the message across in a way that allows us to get a lot more (if not all) of what we need and want, while keeping our reputation AND relationships intact.


There are lots of tools to help frame and deliver these requests in my book, Speaking to Influence: Mastering Your Leadership Voice.


Similarly, in this week’s episode of the Speaking to Influence podcast , Dr. Mary O’Connor, co-founder and chief medical officer of Vori Health, described not only some of the challenges of doctor-patient communication via telemedicine, but also some lessons about being on the other side of the request.


What happens when the request comes in the form of feedback, when you are doing your best to take care of what you think people need, only to find out it’s not actually what they want?


Mary offered great insight into how to reframe the request when hearing it so as not to take it personally or get defensive, recognizing the good intentions that were underlying the request itself.


She also shared how learning to recognize and work with small differences in communication styles – even preferences around things like making “small talk” in the morning – can make a HUGE impact on relationships, morale, and overall culture.


Listen to the full conversation here or watch it on YouTube here .



But whether you’re an employee or a business owner/entrepreneur, join me LIVE this Wednesday, July 13, 2022 at 12: 30 – 1:30 ET to discuss overcoming the most expensive fear: How to Ask for the Money You Deserve” with Sue Begent, Women’s Business, Confidence and Success Coach .


Entrepreneurs are just as hesitant to tell people their fees as employees are to specify their desired salary.


But the simple fact is that regardless of your role or request, whatever it is, if you don’t ask for it, you’ll never get it!


You can register for the event here .


You won’t want to miss it… and for that matter, who can afford to?

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