The Power of Asking

Sometimes the only standing between you and what you want is asking for it.

Here’s an example:

My friend owns an art space in East Austin called CRAFT. A few months ago, I was telling her about one of my favorite podcasts, Natch Beaut. We knew that the host, Jackie Johnson, would be coming to Austin for SXSW and had the idea that maybe she would be up for a meet and greet hosted in the art space. When I got home, I sent Jackie an email that only took five minutes to write. She said yes! The event turned out to be tons of fun!

This isn’t life-changing. But it does show that getting what you want can be as simple as asking for it. It was a good reminder for me in other aspects of my life because sometimes asking can be so scary.

The next time you are wondering whether it’s worth it, here are five reasons you should ask for what you want:

1. If you don’t ask, you won’t get it.

Opportunities rarely fall from the sky and present themselves to us. We have to ask for them. There are so many instances this plays out, including the opportunity with Natch Beaut, but none embody the repercussions of not asking as much as the gender wage gap.

I had a conversation with a good friend and medical professional taking on a lot of extra responsibilities at work. I told her she should ask for raise and she responded, “I shouldn’t have to ask for it.” In theory, yes. But the reality is not so kind.

One predominant gender wage gap theory argues the reason women make less than men is because women don’t ask. JR Thorpe wrote in Bustle,

“Societal expectations that women act meek and conciliatory — along with social penalties for stepping outside gender roles, and business cultures that typically reward and promote men over women — often keep women from negotiating effectively or, indeed, negotiating at all.”

My friend receives a lot of awards for her job, but awards are cheap. You can comment if you also think she should ask for a raise rather than wait for it.

2. Asking isn’t selfish.

Asking for something does not have to be a selfish thing. In a lot of cases, people agree to your request because it benefits them.

For example, I always ask if there’s any kind of special deal the salesman can give me when I make a large purchase. When they are able (which happens a lot!) they benefit from locking in the sale.

When we asked Jackie if she wanted to do the meet and greet at CRAFT, she gained a cool venue to meet her fans.

And even if you’re asking for a higher salary, your employer or client benefits from not losing you to a company that will pay you what you deserve.

The trick is to understand what value you give them by getting what you want. With that in mind, you can craft your question to make it about them.

3. Rejection is not a big deal.

Don’t let the fear of rejection be the reason you don’t get what you want. Why? Rejection is not a big deal. You’re normal for wanting to do cool things, advance your life, and explore what is possible. Asking for it is a necessary step to do so.

The trick is to make your question an actual question; meaning there are multiple possible answers including no, that you are ready to accept.

Phrase your questions so that they have a way to gracefully reject your request and you have a way to gracefully accept their rejection.

You won’t always get the answer you want, but that shouldn’t stop you from asking in the first place.

4. Asking shows that you value yourself.

So much of what we “know” is just what we perceive. When you ask for something, you encourage people to perceive you as deserving of it. If you never ask to do high-market business, then you don’t do high-market business. But if you begin asking for high-market business, then you are someone who at least could do it.

This goes hand-in-hand with the phrase “fake it till you make it.” Ask for the things you want and after a while, you’ll get them.

5. If you ask today, you’ll have better questions tomorrow.

When we talk about opportunities, it’s often described as a door. Let’s take this a step further: when you open one door today, you’ll find that there are more doors on the other side – doors you would have never even known about before.

I think this is what it means to pursue your passion or to follow your heart and see where it takes you. We will never know all the world has to offer, but if you start asking, you’ll put yourself on a path to discover what is possible.

Pick up the phone, write an email, or meet someone face-to-face and ask!

Career TipsRebekah Epstein