It is difficult to ask for what we need (and deserve) career-wise — and I believe this is a common experience. You can almost feel the tension building as we muster the courage to speak up and give our “inner career voice” wings. We are fearful. We hesitate. We obsess. We role-play the potential outcomes in our minds. However, to progress in today’s world of work mastering this process is an absolute necessity. Whether we are seeking recognition for work well done, a much-needed raise, or a simple “tweet” to support our work — asking for what we need is a challenge we simply must overcome.
So, what are we to do about this very common problem? Rather than examining the “hows” of asking for what we need — it is best to examine the “whys” of our hesitation.
A few things to consider:
- Lowered confidence. We have all experienced setbacks at work. However, because of these experiences we can develop a bit of a “blind spot” concerning our true value. As such, we become guarded and often hesitate to take any kind of risk. In the end, we don’t speak up and miss out on opportunities to collaborate, plum projects and an enhanced future.
- We don’t want to brag. This is really tough one. Most of us are brought up not to “toot our own horn”. However, to secure that needed “leg up” — we need to be sure that others are noticing our work. As a result, a little well-placeed PR is a necessity. In today’s fast paced workplace, playing the “shrinking violet” is likely a losing strategy. We need to get over that.
- We don’t like to ask. If you describe yourself as fiercely competitive — you may not like to depend on anyone to help secure your future. You may even think this would cause you to appear needy or less competent. If this is your vantage point, remember that no man (or woman) is an island. It actually takes many people to build a meaningful career. So open yourself up to reach out.
- We’re in the dark. In some cases, we are simply unsure of our actual career worth. Why? Because we do not seek accurate feedback. Asking your boss, clients or colleagues, “How did you feel about the work I completed?” is a fair and reasonable question. So ask away. We need to know where we actually stand to feel we are in any position of power — and gathering the facts is really the only way.
- We’ve made unreasonable comparisons. Sometimes we feel unworthy because we are drawing unhealthy comparisons in relation to the careers of others (and judging ourselves quite harshly). We feel we don’t measure up and don’t have any claim to valuable outcomes. Why not offer yourself a break?
- We are afraid of the word “No”. The prospect of being rejected is never a pleasant — and hearing a negative response is a possibility. However, remember that we have the ability to recover. So, why not process the “no”, peel back the first layer of emotions and ask “why not”.
This is not a dynamic that resolves overnight. If you desire progress, simply start small and work your way forward. Asking for what you want or deserve might be difficult the first time around — but the process will get easier.
Just remember: If you ask — you just may get.
Have you been faced with this dilemma? What happened?