“If you don’t go after what you want, you’ll never have it. If you don’t ask, the answer is always no. If you don’t step forward, you’re always in the same place.”
— Nora Roberts
“People who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.”
— Rob Siltanen
How to Get What You Want
I was standing in line at the supermarket with 10 or 12 items in my cart. There were two or three people ahead of me.
I sensed someone hurriedly walk up and stand behind me.
Right behind me. Like too close.
I casually glanced around and saw it was this 30-something guy, shifting his weight from foot to foot, craning his neck to see how long the other lines were.
He kept sighing and then sucking air through his teeth.
If that’s all there was to the story, I probably would’ve thought to myself, Dude, chill. out! and then ignored him as much as I could.
But that was only the beginning.
After more audible agitation, he suddenly stepped up to the side of me and said, “Can I go in front of you?”
I thought, really??
Noticing he had only one thing in his hand, I was about to say, “I only have a few things myself. You might do better to practice some deep breathing and try to relax.” (I can be real helpful like that sometimes, to share my knowledge of self-calming techniques, and all)
But before I could say anything, he continued, “ . . . because my wife is out in the car with our sick baby girl, and this,” holding up some kind of medicine, “is what the doctor said could help bring her fever down.”
Ok, now I was the jerk!
I then not only agreed to let him go before me, but I announced to the checker and everyone else, “Excuse me! This gentleman needs to purchase this medicine for his sick baby; so he’s going to the front of the line, ok??”
A Simple How-to Formula
Although it’s not a guarantee, you can greatly increase your chances of getting what you want with this simple step:
Ask for what you want.
You stand a very poor chance of getting what you want if you say nothing.
But just by asking, your chances shoot pretty high.
Ask for what you want, then let go of the outcome.
You may or may not get what you ask for, so simply resign yourself to whatever happens because it’s likely to be no worse than if you didn’t ask in the first place.
So why not ask?
In most cases, the worst outcome would be a “no.”
Okay, well maybe it’d be worse to hear “no” in a snotty, holier-than-thou tone. But most people aren’t as judgemental as I can be.
But if it would be an 80% likelihood that you’d hear, “yes,” why not risk it and ask for what you want? Just make sure to let go of the outcome before you ask.
You can boost your chances of hearing “yes” by adding just one more component:
Add WHY you’re asking.
This concerned father (notice how his standing went up from being just an annoying guy) not only asked for what he wanted, he added why he was in a hurry: to care for his sick child.
It doesn’t even matter what the reason is usually, it’s just that people tend to be more empathetic when they understand some context. I probably would have been just as agreeable if this dad had said, “ . . . because my wife’s waiting for me out in the car.”
This formula works just as well for weightier matters, too.
When Money is On the Line
Sam was getting bored with his job.
He’d only been there two years, but he didn’t feel appreciated as much as he thought his experience was worth.
Before quitting, though, he decided to ask for what he wanted.
While talking to Jim, his supervisor, he said, “I’ve noticed I have more experience than others who do my same job, and I’m not feeling valued for the contributions I make.” [he led with his why]
“I’d like some kind of raise having been here for two years already.” [here he added another why with his ask]
After Jim said he’d gladly bring it up to upper management, he came back two days later saying, “You know the company is struggling right now, but management wants you to know they value you as an employee. How would you like to work on that new project you were interested in and come in an hour later to match the team’s schedule? You’ll still clock out at the same time, and you’d be on management’s radar for a promotion when the company’s numbers improve.”
Sam didn’t get exactly what he wanted, but it was still more than what he had.
It was still more than if he’d said nothing.
When It’s Your Relationship
Julie was tired of Anthony ignoring her. She felt like his maid. She had no problem doing most of the upkeep around the house because Anthony handled all the bills and insisted on using his chef skills on the weekends.
He just worked so many hours and didn’t communicate much.
Julie had already expressed her unhappiness and expected he would take the hint and start checking in with her to express some appreciation for what she did.
It was several months ago when she sent Anthony a text: “We need to talk when you get home.”
Anthony now felt Julie was ordering him around. He got home later than usual that night and said he was too tired when Julie brought it up again.
I had recently taught Julie about “Asking For What You Want (and letting go of the outcome).”
This time she called Anthony and left a voice message when he didn’t pick up, “Hey honey, I’d like to take a walk down to the park when you get home tonight.” [her ask]
“I’ve been feeling quite lonely and somewhat neglected, and I want to hear how things are going for you—you’ve been working a lot of hours lately.” [her why]
She didn’t hear anything the rest of that afternoon.
Then around 6:30, Anthony walked through the front door with a bouquet of flowers for Julie, “Thanks for reminding me to stop and smell the flowers with you—let’s take that walk right after we eat. I thought you didn’t care about what I was doing at work.”
Simple Steps To Get What You Want
While there’s no guarantee that things will turn out as rosey as they did for Julie (okay, bad pun, but) the likelihood of improvement goes way up just by asking for what you want and then letting go of the outcome.
Add a simple why to your ask, and you’ll likely start having better luck in no time!
Consider scheduling a free 10-minutes with me to explore how you could apply these ideas to getting what YOU want!