Tricia Karp Tricia Karp
02 July 2013

The art of the ask

ask-for-what-you-wantA favour.  A pay rise.  A new project.  An opportunity.

Want it?  Then ask for it.  Be bold.

I work with a lot of women, and know quite a few more, who don’t ask.  They don’t like to.  It’s as if they believe that if they ask, they’re being a nuisance, or making life difficult for someone else.  They’d hate to be a burden, take up too much space, stretch the friendship, or worse – have their own desires, dreams and goals (unless they can completely take care of them themselves and not hassle anyone else along the way).

Asking is powerful speaking.  Silence isn’t.

I’m reflecting on what felt like a slap in the face from a woman with whom I’ve had a working relationship for a couple of years.  I felt so disappointed when she didn’t ask me for what she wanted, and went elsewhere because she didn’t want to stretch the friendship.  She felt she’d already asked me for too much, that there had to be a limit, and she certainly didn’t want to push it.  

She thought, by not asking, that she was doing me a favour.

Her: We really appreciate everything you’ve done for us and I just couldn’t ask you for more because we don’t have much money to pay you for this so I asked someone else.

Me: You didn’t give me the choice.  You made the decision for me.  I could have said no, and that’s up to me to decide.  

I was surprised she didn’t ask me.  What this woman doesn’t understand is that what she saw as a gone-one-step-too-far favour, I saw as a potentially great opportunity.

It’s not about the money (it’s never just about the money).  And it wasn’t her place to make that decision for me.  It was a classic case of communication just not happening.

I notice that a lot of women don’t get that being asked is special.  It’s a privilege to be asked.

I love being asked.

I love being asked for help when a friend is in need.  I love it that she trusts me enough to want my assistance. It warms the cockles of my heart.

I love being asked to connect people with one another, and for referrals.  It makes me feel respected, as though my word is worth gold.

I love being asked to speak at events, even if the budget is $0.  I might say no.  And I still feel honoured that people are interested in what I have to say.

If you have trouble asking, try this:

Make it your mission to be so bold, so outrageous in what you ask for, that you’ll receive a no to your requests.

Actively seek that no.  I dare you to be comfy with it.  To not feel rejected.  To honour your desires – and yourself – for asking big. You’re allowed to want what you want.

Try it for a week.  And I’d love to know how you go.  You can leave a comment below.  And if you know someone who has trouble asking, please share this with her.  Women who ask are powerful speakers.

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