Asking for What you Want

David has this habit where instead of asking for something, he’ll just say “you won’t say yes anyway.” I will admit, this always gets me annoyed. I feel like saying no just out of spite. But, that aside, I am a big fan of asking for what you want. I’ve noticed that people tend to make a lot of assumptions about what they can and cannot have.

I’m not sure what it is that stops people from asking for things. I’ve found that when you ask for something straight up without being conniving and passive aggressive or annoying, you’re more likely to get what you want than not get it. I’ve asked for things in so many different areas of my life. In school, at work, in my personal life. My husband jokes that I am good at getting my way, but I find that, more often than not, I ask when others don’t. And people have a hard time saying no to your face. Especially when they have no reason to do so.

When I was in college, I did this often with the random class limits. I used to walk up to my advisor and ask him to let me take more classes than the limit. I figured if I kept my grades high and fulfilled my requirements, why shouldn’t I just be able to take whatever class I wanted. If the rules seemed arbitrary to me, I always questioned them. That’s how I ended up getting my Masters at the same time as my Bachelors Degree. It’s also how I ended up working three days a week on Wall Street and still getting promoted. It’s how I got to work at home now. There was no big trick to getting what I wanted.

I just asked.

This is not to say sometimes the answer is not “no” but you will never know the answer if you don’t ask. Trust me. Even when you think you know the answer, you often will be surprised. I find that if you do your part and are a reliable student, employee, spouse, friend, you often find the other party is happy to help accomodate you when they can.

The other side of asking for what you want is accepting what you get. Once you ask, you need to be ok with getting yes or no as answer. But here’s what I think about that: if you don’t ask, you’re guaranteed a “no” so if you ask and get a “no” you’re no worse off than if you hadn’t asked. But if you get a “yes,” you’re much better off. So, by asking, you can only end up same or better off. So why not ask?

That’s what I told David yesterday when he, once again, made some passive aggressive comment instead of just asking for what he wanted. I said that if he didn’t ask, he would never know what the answer is. And if he did this trick where he said “oh you will never say yes anyway,” he would end up being right because I would never say yes to that. So his best option was to ask straight out and take what he got as an answer with dignity. Sometimes I might say yes and other times he’s right that the answer might be no.

But he will only know if he asks.

7 comments to Asking for What you Want

  • I absolutely agree with you and at the same time I know for me it is one of the most difficult things to do. I always feel that I don’t deserve “yes”, I don’t want to bother anyone with my questions, and try to avoid possible conflicts. That’s how I ended up without a career and without a future after working 14 years in high tech and finishing my masters…. Definitely something to think about…

  • I am so like David. “You’re just going to say no anyway.” And it’s really only when it comes to family. I hate asking things of my family, the people I should feel the least restrictive of asking. And I need to be better about that as my son grows up.

  • I LOVE reading about your thoughts and drives. Makes me more aware of my own behaviour. I am a person who asks, mostly not for getting things, but also because i don’t understand something. Often turns out others weren’t understanding it either, but were afraid to ask. Asking is not for dummies, it makes you smarter! So now i am going to also ask more what i want, mmmm ;-))))

    • karenika

      yes! that’s an altogether different post. I think i wrote about it a long time ago. i’ll have to dig it up! I am a big fan of asking too!!

  • MarcyB

    This post struck a cord with me because my first husband used to preface every single request, large and small, with “Is there any way that you could…?” I thought it was polite when we first met but after awhile it just made me clench my teeth and say, “No, there’s not” even if I might otherwise have agreed to whatever it was. We’ve been divorced for decades now but that phrase still sets my teeth on edge. Of course, I’m now very good at ASKING those around me to never say “Is there any way…” unless they want an automatic “NO.” 🙂

  • Good point, we often defeat ourselves first…

  • Lucie Hale

    This was brilliant! I will take your advice and work on it. I have a tendency to be on the passive aggressive side, and I can’t stand it!!! I recognize it, so that’s a start!
    Thanks for your insight!

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