Asking Without Feeling Guilty
Have you ever felt anxious about asking for something, when deep down you felt you had earned it or that you deserved it? This is not an uncommon situation. Many of us fear asking. We fear asking for help, we fear asking for a raise, we fear asking for money, we fear asking someone out, and so on.
While this is an expected and common behaviour, is rarely a useful one. If you seem too nervous, too ill at ease when asking for something, it makes you seem weak and it makes you look unsure of yourself. Sometimes, the other person will understand and let you know. But with some personality types, showing any type of fear is a death knell.
The fear of asking is mental and emotional more than anything else. It is much easier to ask for what you want or what you need once you overcome the mental and emotional blocks that get in your way. Doing so requires a change in attitude.
Don't see yourself as a beggar: if you are afraid of asking because you think it will make you look weak, get over it! Everybody needs help sometimes. The largest companies, the greatest athletes, the greatest achievers you may know, have not done it on their own. They asked for help from the community, from their parents, their friends, coaches, mentors, other companies, and so on. Human beings are social creatures, meaning we are not supposed to be able to do everything on our own. We need the help of others to achieve our full potential. You can't get help unless you ask.
Think positively: thinking positively simply means to think in terms of a useful outcome. Your fear may be coming from an expectation for things to go bad. That is not a useful behaviour. Notice I don't say it is wrong behaviour; it is just unhelpful because it will not help you get what you want. Furthermore, the more you think in terms of a negative outcome, the greater your anxiety, and the worse you will feel about asking. Instead, focus and expect positive outcome after you've asked for something. More often than not, that's what you'll get.
Be assertive not aggressive: being assertive means "I matter and you matter." What I mean is this: in any interaction, you should strive to position yourself on equal footing with the other person. Even if the other person has accomplished more than you, even if the other person wields more power than you do, it does not give you the right to view yourself as unworthy in that person's eyes. Just because you may think that you are unimportant to the other person does not make it so.
One of my mentors is a highly successful and powerful individual. In fact, he is so successful that I used to be afraid to call him, thinking I would bother him during his busy life. Did I mention that I had paid for the service? I stopped being afraid to call and ask for his help when he told me: "Look Laurent, you paid for my services. If you'd rather waste that money by not calling me, that's up to you!" I changed my attitude to see myself as an equal to him, even though he had more experience, more expertise, and was more successful than I was.
Expect objections but don't live by them: whenever you ask for something, you always run the risk that the other person will object to your request. Sometimes, the fear of asking comes from our unwillingness to face rejection. If you can identify with this feeling, it may be because you see an objection as being the same thing as a rejection.
An objection is simply that the other person does not see any benefit in acquiescing to your demand. In other words, you haven't answered the crucial question "What's in it for me?" On the other hand, rejection implies rejecting the demand and the person. In most cases, however, people will object to the demand but not to the person. So you should not take it personally.
Since objections are to be expected, take the time to prepare for them. The more important your demand, the more important this step becomes. If you start thinking "He/she won't accept because..." this is a signal that you're letting possible objections take over your thought process. If that's the case, take the time to make a list of all the objections you expect, and prepare a rebuttal. In other words, think of the reasons why the other person should say "yes" instead of making yourself believe that he or she should say "no."
Asking for help is an essential and necessary skill to develop if you want to move forward. Asking is only the first step to getting what you want out of life. Children do it constantly and consistently, successful people do it constantly and consistently, do you?
Ask and enjoy the results!
© Laurent Duperval