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How to ask for what you want - and get it!

How to ask for what you want – and get it!



Have you ever walked away from a situation frustrated, angry, and ready to kick a wall, because you really wanted something from someone that you just couldn’t get?

One of the top reasons relationships – personal or business - fail is poor communication.  Someone is not getting what he or she wants, and decides to quit the relationship as a result.

In business you have to listen for what your client is really asking for, and to discover if what you have to offer will fill that need.  Your job is to communicate to the client how the widget you’re selling can make her life better.  You give her a solution, she gives you money, everyone is happy.  Simple, once you know how to do it!

In personal relationships, the give and take is not always so clear.  And to make things even more challenging, it is often not what you ask for that determines the outcome, but how you are asking for it.  Complicated, huh?

You've gotta give for what you take
The trick of how you ask for something is to do it such a way that the impact on you, and the benefit to the other person are made clear.  Yup, it’s the old quid pro quo, something for something, win/win situation trick. 

By making clear how what you are asking for benefits all parties, you create a situation where everyone feels good about what is happening.  And as we all know, people are more likely to do things that make them feel good and to repeat a pleasurable experience.  At Scarlet Girl we count on it!


An exchange doesn’t always have to be a “thing for thing” or “service for service” situation to work, either!  So on the day you suddenly feel that you might take a sledge hammer to the stove or set fire to the next dirty sock you see, instead of shouting or quietly seething consider asking your partner – or kids - for assistance.

Be very conscious of how you phrase things.  Take a deep breath (don’t scream!) and try something like, “Snookems, I’m feeling overwhelmed with all the tasks that need to be done.  If you could help me out by taking on the laundry duty I would be grateful.  I would not feel so stressed, and if that happened I would be a much more pleasant person to be around.  Could you please help me with this?”

It’s a fair request, and one of those “I feel” statements that doesn’t shout, “You never help me around the house!!!!” or accuse anyone of anything.  You have not really asked for the task so much, as for the relief the task will provide. 

This also makes the task in question negotiable, but it ensures a reward for both sides.  Maybe Snookems would prefer to take on dishes instead – either way you are still getting the break you want.  Your reward is relief, and your partner’s reward is a spouse that is not resentful, and quietly (or vocally!) angry.

Be specific.  B-E specific!
Sometimes you have to look very closely at what it is you really need.  Is it simple trashcan duty, or is it actually more involvement in caring for the household?  Be specific, and break it down for the person you are talking to. 

Yeah, baby!
When you do get what you want it’s important that you make a big deal of it!  Your partner or friend is much more likely to give you what you want, if you use positive reinforcement each time things go your way.  You also have to be equally willing to grant requests.  Be gracious and grateful – it’s easy to be nice to a nice person!

The Magic 8 Ball approach to life
We’ve all done it.  A partner or friend asks us “What’s wrong?” and you respond with something clever like, “Oh, nothing…” or “If you don’t know, then I’m not going to tell you!” and wait for some sort of craven plea for forgiveness or an oath of future obedience to your every whim. 

Ladies, we are guiltier of this than our male counterparts, and it never works.  We’re not psychic, and shouldn’t expect people around us to be, either.  You actually have to ASK for what you want in life, or you don’t get it.  This goes way beyond simple tasks to include things like space, attention, help, acceptance, etc.  You get the picture.

It’s scary
We are also guiltier than our testosterone gifted brethren of being afraid to ask for what we want, and there are lots of reasons. 
We are AFRAID of:
· Being vulnerable
· Being seen as a nag
· Being seen as controlling
· Being rejected
· And (drum roll please… this is the grand poobah fear for a lot of women), we are afraid of being seen as bitchy!

So, get over it!  If you have looked deeply inside, and really do need something from your partner or friend that you are not getting, ASK!  If you are not willing to discuss the issue, then you have to reconsider how important it really is to you.
If you don’t ask, you are not allowed to be resentful for not having what you want. 

You can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes…
So, you’ve asked, offered a quid pro quo, made the benefit of action clear, and still you are unsatisfied.  Ouch.  Terrible, but true - sometimes, it happens.  What now? 

First, assume that your friend or partner has your best interests at heart, and would do what you ask if it were possible, and if they understood the importance.  You have to assume that the person you are in this relationship with (and it doesn’t have to be a romantic relationship) has your best interests at heart.  It should be a given that they want you to do well, and be happy.  If this is not the case, then RUN!  Seriously, RUN!!!

If you have asked for what you want and gotten a negative response, be sure to explain yourself.  Do it only once more, very clearly, calmly, and gently.  Asking for the same thing over and over when the answer has been “no” is nagging, which will ensure that future requests cause an instant shut down in your partner or friend.  It also creates resentment for both of you. 

So be prepared to take action based on the response you get, and be gracious.  It is more likely that you will get a positive response the next time.  The only response you can control is your own, and it may influence future interactions with your friend or partner.  Just as you have a right to ask for what you need, they have the right to say yes or no, so you must have an alternate strategy if that answer is no.

Avoid using ultimatums, or else!
Sounds silly, doesn’t it?  Ultimatums are just nagging with more anger behind them, and they rarely get you anywhere.  If you do use an ultimatum, be sure you are prepared to follow through to the end.  This is where having an alternate strategy will do you good. 

Strategize and Compromise
I saw a great example of alternate strategy use in my past life working with a cleaning service.  After meeting with a couple to discuss house cleaning, they informed me that the service was actually to save their marriage. 

One partner was a neat-nik - the other, not so much.  The neat-nik felt resentful at having to work harder to keep things the way he liked them, and his partner felt resentful at having to achieve what she considered an unreasonable standard.  Neither was willing to take on all the responsibility, but they decided they could both live with the solution of an outside cleaning service.

Wrap it up, I’ll take it
You’ll never get everything you need all the time, but your reaction to the response you get will influence future interactions.  If you give as well as take when you do get what you want, the next “yes” will come more easily.  And, if you accept a “no” graciously, a “yes” will also be more likely the next time.

Nagging and demanding make both parties unhappy and resentful.  A demand leaves no room for give and take – it’s like a grabbing fist.  But a request is more like an open hand, which is free to give and receive – and it’s easier to fill with good things!


copyright ScarletGirl.com

Article author, Vicki Kriner, is a small business aficionado and sometime author with nearly two decades in the world of customer service, business building, and the general realm of helping others succeed.

She books Scarlet Girl shows and other lectures in Portland, OR and the San Francisco Bay Area of CA.  Her greatest joy lies in finding solutions for clients, networking, and creating sustainable business growth.



This article was added to our catalog on Friday 16 March, 2007.

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