Some people, especially women, feel they’ve crossed some etiquette line when they say clearly what they want or need. But do you know that as long as you remain calm, cordial, and courteous, it’s perfectly socially acceptable to ask for what you want. Your grandmother was right when she taught you please and thank you — and for best emotional or mental health, expect your needs to be met.
Every day of our lives, we meet up with situations in which we feel a need for input. At work, you’ve tired of waiting for that promised raise. At home, you wish your kids would take on some of the household duties. With friends, you might be hoping for some help with a big project or challenge. And shouldn’t your lover just know how to make you quiver like a bowl of gelatin?
The biggest mistake we make is asking others to be clairvoyant about our needs. Unless you hang out with a closely knit group of skilled adepts, it’s unlikely those around you will intuitively know what you want.
“If they love me (like me, respect me) they will know I want them to step up,” you figure. Well, that’s the fastest way to disappointment. Your best tool will be to develop the confidence and skill to ask for what you want, right out loud. Here’s how:
Get in touch with exactly what would satisfy your want or need. Spend a little time thinking the situation through and be clear about the answer.
Compose, in your mind, a clear question/statement of what you need, including who, what, when. Begin the statement with I, not with you should. Example — “I would really like you to do the laundry each week, would you be willing to do that?”
If the issue is huge, practice in a mirror or with a friend until your feel totally comfortable with your delivery.
Present your request in a calm time, never during an argument or altercation. Make an appointment with your target to have a brief talk about the issue. Explain concisely what’s on your mind, then ask for what you want. This isn’t the time for a lecture or long description of how life is in general. Stick to the facts and do it with a smile.
Use body language to signal non-aggression. Face the other person and make eye contact. Don’t wrap your arms around your body protectively, use an open posture with palms outward or up to show willingness to compromise when appropriate. Step back a little and give the other person some space.
No hostility, but don’t fear being assertive. “Mr. Boss, for a year, my performance reviews have been exemplary. It’s a good time for us to talk about a salary increase for me. Can we talk, please, about a new compensation package that meets your needs and mine?”
Have a plan if your request is rejected. Avoid arguing, and pouting is out of the question. Acknowledge that you heard the other person’s point-of-view and offer to revisit the issue at a not-too-distant specified time. Make it clear that you could be willing to compromise, but that your request deserves to be taken seriously.
Once you understand that you are as entitled as anyone else to have your wants and needs met, it’ll get easier to relax and assert yourself. Smile, be open and pleasant, and simply say what’s on your mind. It’s OK to ask for what you want, and it’s fantastic to find you get what you ask for because you believe in yourself.