Wednesday, November 19, 2008

You Don't Get What You Don't Ask For

I have learned over the years that asking for what you want is a sure-fire way of getting it. Not asking for what you want and expecting to get it anyway is a bit like riding a stationary bike; your wheels are going to spin frantically but you aren't going to get anywhere.

In order to get what you want you have to know what it is that you are seeking in the first place. In my old customer service days, I would get countless calls from irate customers who were pissed off that something unjust happened to them, yet when I asked them what I could do to make them feel better they had no idea! I would hear a lot of "ums" and "uhs" while they struggled to articulate a proper settlement. More often than not, people just wanted to vent their frustration and I was the unfortunate ear on the other end of the phone. I often wondered why someone would waste the time to call and complain and hang up without getting anything in return. I was willing to offer compensation of some sort if I just knew what it was the caller was looking for.

I was working in a dead-end job and ready to switch careers into a higher-paying field when my husband asked me what I was looking for in a new job. Honestly, I wanted a higher salary and that was about it. I was ready and able to change fields but my primary motivator was money. My husband suggested a pay range he thought I should ask for based on industry standards and my experience. I thought he was crazy and under no circumstances could I command that kind of salary. I was new to the field for one thing and unsure of my worth for another. However, he was pretty confident that I could do it and I wanted desperately to believe him. He very patiently pointed out over several conversations that I would never know unless I tried. To make a long story short I took a deep breath, put on my best brave face, summoned some buried self-confidence, went into a new job interview and negotiated a suitable salary. I asked for what I wanted and I received it. It works! I have negotiated job salaries, promotions and other extras ever since with that very simple concept in mind. You are not going to get what you don't ask for.

The same concept applies to all areas of life. Keep in mind that what you are asking for needs to make sense, of course, and just because you ask for a million dollars to drop in your lap doesn't necessarily mean you are going to get a million dollars. You must show your value to a company if you are asking for a raise. Just asking for the raise isn't going to help you if you have no evidence of your worth. If you want your spouse, significant other or friend to help you or understand your position, state it clearly instead of assuming that person should instinctively know what you want. If you are calling the customer service department with a complaint, your suggested compensation must be within reasonable limits. But, do ask. It's amazing what people are willing to help you with when they are aware of and understand your requests.

Of course you might ask for things that don't come to fruition. That's OK, too. At least you asked and now you know. Without asking and learning the inevitable outcome you might still be spinning your wheels on an endless ride to nowhere.


Jenna said...

I used this advice on the hubby today...I'll let you know how it goes :)!

But in all're right...we can't complain if we've never even asked!!

Kim Murray said...

Good for you! I do have to remind myself sometimes to use this logic when complacency sets in and I "assume" people know what I want. People aren't mind readers, especially husbands!


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