Toast Note - 7 December

I’ve had opportunity to share my thoughts on saying no with a lot of people over the past few months. It’s nice when I get a chance to repeatedly riff on a topic. Gives me permission to read a lot, watch a lot of YouTube videos, prowl the webs and refine my stories. But after months of this, I only yesterday focused on the question of how to ask for something. That’s the other side of the coin, isn’t it? Saying no is a skill set. Asking for something is another but related skill set.

This came up in the context of someone at the company talking about a really good flexible work experience. At the end of his epiphany story, he noted that ‘if it were offered, I’d be the first to put my hand.’ So my immediate response face palm thought was, “Well just how much permission do you need given that you put this on a company Yammer group specifically devoted to encouraging people to work flexibly.” It’s like we’re all so scared of stepping out of line, not looking like a team player, appearing too aggressive, we’re afraid to ask for the thing Right In Front Of Us.

Gramma Betty used to say, “You don’t get 100% of the things you don’t ask for.” She taught me upper market manners, how to speak like a professor, pick the right fork, and something about pinkies and tea cups I’ve never quite understood. She also taught me how to be firm, friendly, polite and demanding. Want a better table? Politely tell the waiter you’d like to sit over there. Want a new work assignment? Politely ask your manager for something else – bring details and a willingness to work hard. Want a better salary offer? Don’t tell them a number. Tell the hiring team you are fully schooled on the market value for your skill set and explain that you are an expensive but high value addition to the team.

Now #science says this is a gendered thing. By that I mean that women are less likely to ask for what we want in a business context then our male counterparts. Just add that to your self-awareness bucket, ladies, as a thing we can and will overcome in ourselves. But it’s a good thought for all of us. Want something different? Muster your needs, wants, plans, and company manners and just ask for it.

If you want to conquer fear, don’t sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy.” ~ Dale Carnegie

Karen ToastComment