Stop kicking yourself! It happens to the best of us.
You’re in the midst of a negotiation… perhaps a lease for the new office, the last round of discussions to settle your salary or the final price tag of the new EMR.
You’ve gone over it in your mind, and you knew what you wanted. But for some reason, when it was time to speak up, you didn’t step up to the plate. Realizing you missed your chance, you felt frustrated, even angry with yourself.
Because you ended up stuck with a less than favorable lease, a salary that’s not good enough, and a price tag that’s far higher than you were prepared to pay.
Why didn’t you speak up and asked for what you wanted? Why didn’t you ask for your terms?
It can be tough!
Unfortunately, it’s not always easy, nor comfortable to ask for what we want. And for women, it may be even more challenging.
Most women have been socialized not to be direct, not to be “aggressive” and not ask for what they want. While mostly unspoken, women are expected to put the needs of others above their own.
And often, it means not asking for what we want. Frequently, asking for what we want is even viewed on par with being aggressive.
But socialization is a topic for another time.
Let’s get back to our original question, “Do you ask for what you want?”
And for the record, it’s not women alone who find it tough to ask for what they want. Some men face the same issues.
But regardless of men or women, when we’re not asking for what we want, it can impact all aspects of our personal and professional lives.
So how can you muster the courage and get in the habit of asking for what you want in your personal and professional life?
While asking for what you want may feel uncomfortable at first, practice makes perfect. And when done repeatedly, it provides you with the experience and confidence needed to become more assertive over time.
- Know yourself and what you want. This knowledge alone gives you confidence. When you know who you are, what makes you tick, and what outcome you expect from a negotiation, you’re on a solid foundation. You’re in a position to communicate what’s important to you and why. The more you understand yourself and your preferences, the easier it will be for you to ask for what you want.
- Ask for what you want, but within reason. While it may be an acceptable practice to make a ridiculous low-ball offer on a house, the same tactic may backfire elsewhere. For example, when you’re negotiating a lease, don’t ask to lock-in a rate that’s far below average for the area and property. A better approach perhaps may be negotiating aspects of the lease that would give you other benefits, i.e., help with build-out, length of the contract, etc.
- Backup your ask with the reason why. Whenever we’re asked to do or give something, most of us want to know the reason for it. If you have children, you know what I mean! So, if you’re asking for something specific, let the other person know the reason behind it. For example, if you ask for a certain level of salary, be prepared to back up your request with information about your unique qualifications, experience, and expertise, and how it would benefit your future employer.
- Prepare with a plan B. If you find yourself asking for something but can’t get anywhere, be prepared to pivot. For one reason or another, others may not be able to accommodate your request. You don’t want to give in at first sign of resistance, but be prepared to adjust your request, or switch to plan B altogether. While you may not be able to get the one thing you’ve asked for, perhaps it opens up the possibility to ask for something else you had considered.
- Don’t be overly attached. When you’re asking for something, be prepared to hear ‘No;” it’s an answer that’s always a possibility. Sometimes people can’t give us what we want. Other times, they don’t want to accommodate us. Get comfortable with hearing no and moving on. Instead of spending time on being upset, regroup, and refocus your energy. Move on, and either ask someone else or focus on finding a different solution. Don’t allow yourself to be negatively impacted or even give up.
Keep these simple tips in mind as you go into negotiations, no matter how small or big. And be patient with yourself. Learning to speak up, asking for what you want takes practice; it’s almost like learning a new language.
And just like learning a language comes with making mistakes and takes a lot of practice, so does the skill of asking for what you want. But don’t worry, you have plenty of opportunities to practice and get better, every single day!
Always remember, if you don’t ask for what you want, you are most certainly not going to get it!
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By Johanna Hofmann, MBA, LAc; regular contributor to the NPBusiness blog and author of “Smart Business Planning for Clinicians.“