It is difficult to ask for what we need career-wise. But, that doesn’t make us less deserving. We all have something we need — Recognition. A more flexible schedule. Increased challenge. Exposure.
But we are fearful. We hesitate. We obsess. We role-play the potential outcome of the conversations in our minds.
To progress in today’s world of work, mastering “the ask” is an absolute necessity. Wherever you find yourself in your career journey — asking for what we need is simply a challenge we must overcome.
So, how do we address this common problem? Rather than examining the “hows” of asking for what we need — it is best to examine the “whys” behind our initial hesitation.
A few things that hold us back:
- We’re in the dark. In some cases, we are simply unsure of our actual career worth. Why? Because we don’t seek honest 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.
- A couple of “hard knocks”. In part, this is a confidence game. We have all experienced setbacks at work. Because of these experiences, we can develop a bit of a “blind spot” concerning our true value. Then we become guarded and hesitate to take risks. In the end, if we don’t speak up and we could miss opportunities to enhance our future long-term.
- We don’t like to brag. This is really tough one. Most of us feel we shouldn’t “toot our own horn”. However, to secure that needed “leg up” — we need to be sure that others are noticing our work. A little well-placed PR is a necessity. In today’s fast paced workplace, playing the “shrinking violet” is likely a losing strategy.
- We don’t like to ask for anything. If you describe yourself as fiercely independent — 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. Remember that no one is an island. It actually takes many people to build a meaningful career. So open yourself up to reach out.
- 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 harshly). We feel we don’t measure up and don’t have any claim to valuable outcomes.
- 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.
This dynamic takes time to overcome. 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 this: If you ask — you just may get.
Have you been faced with this dilemma? What happened?