Genuine problem solving often requires us to ask people for help and information. This is applicable for both work projects and career advancement as a whole. Creating strong cases for your requests will improve the chances you get positive answers and prevent miscommunication of excepted results.
Often, inner thoughts dissuade us from asking for anything. It is hard to overcome them. These thoughts never go away even if we are super experienced and capable. They will always be there in our heads to try to keep us “safe and comfortable.” We have to ask for what we want despite these thoughts.
There is an art to the ask. It cannot be an ultimatum. It cannot be just about you and why you need it. Here are five tips on how you can ask for what you want and feel good about it.
Tip 1: Provide context. Try to add background information to the problem and ease the listener into it. What are you trying to achieve? Why do you think it’s important? What will it take to make your request a reality?
Tip 2: Be clear and specific. A clear and specific question sounds like a solution and not a problem. For example, “I want to work more remotely.” is NOT a good example. It’s too vague and leaves the listener with the problem of having to guess what you mean. Instead, say “I would like to work remotely 100% of the time and only come into the office as needed to save commute time.”
Tip 3: Always explain why your request is good for the company as well as you. Explain all your reasons why you should get what you are asking. If you are not convinced by your own rationale then you cannot convince others either. This benefit should usually come in the form of Business Value or Compliance.
Never make the person that you are asking the bad guy. It is better not to make anyone guilty at all.
Tip 4: Be detached from the outcome. It’s important to make your ask regardless of the answer you’ll get. This will build your confidence and build your skills in making the request. Everyone gets more “No” on the first try than “Yes.” Now that you planted the seed of what you want, you have to give it time to grow.
Tip 5: Be persistent. Getting what you want usually takes more than one conversation and a bit of time. If at first, you get a no, ask what would make it into a yes. That will give you some clues on what you can work on. Once you have worked on it, you can make the question again. Also, keep thinking about why what you are asking is good for your manager and the company. Make sure you are clear in articulating that each time you ask.
Doing all the above doesn’t guarantee you will get a yes to your request. But, if you don’t step up to the plate and take your swing, you will never get a hit. That’s guaranteed!