Spring Into Action: How to Ask For What You Want

When I got my first real job out of college, I was an Administrative Assistant in a financial company with only 5 staff members. I knew nothing about finances, but having worked there a previous summer, it didn’t take me too long to catch on. In my interview, my soon to be boss told me that I would be making $1000 per month. Now we all know that is not a lot of money. Especially for a person with a lot of hobbies like myself. Made worse, I planned on enrolling in an online university to pursue my Master’s in Marriage & Family Therapy and knew that would not be enough. But I didn’t want to get greedy. After all, I only had a Bachelor’s degree and no work experience. So I looked him in the eye and said, “Could I be paid $50 more?” It was so simple but that little question I asked made all the difference. The fact that I even dared to ask for more money made my boss respect me so much more. Ever since then, I’ve had a way of asking for things that almost guaranteed approval.

Whether it’s a raise, a boost in responsibilities, or even just a little time off, asking for what you want in the workplace can be one of the most difficult tasks on your to-do list. Now, I’m no Martha Stewart, but I have picked up a few tips and tricks that I can share with you today to help you go for it—and ask for what you want. After all, asking the tough questions, standing up for yourself, and being your own advocate is crucial for long-term success, happiness, and overall satisfaction at work. And, there’s no one in this world who knows what you want (and sometimes need) better than you do.  Now, let’s get into it…

Remember Your Value. If you don’t truly believe that you deserve that big promotion, no one else will. Remind yourself of all of your accomplishments, and run through a list of all of your positive assets. A little confidence boost can change the tone of any workplace conversation, and will allow you to voice your request in an assertive and poised manner. Think about what you’re asking for, and go over all of the reasons why you deserve it. Just like in my job interview, I was able to ask for more money because I knew I deserved it. When my boss could see that I was genuine and not backing down, he thought nothing of it to grant my request.

Body Language. Did you know that altering your body language even the tiniest bit can make you feel more powerful, confident and optimistic? Not only does your body language affect how others perceive you, but it can actually change the way that you think and feel about yourself. Be cautious of how you carry yourself. You want to be assertive but not so assertive that you put off the person you’re speaking to. So look your boss straight in the eye, sit a little taller, and use your body language to your advantage.

Be Gracious. This one is super important. Being gracious and asking for what you want in a calm, confident, and POSITIVE tone can make or break it. Most of the time, it’s not necessarily what you say, but how you say it. When asking for that well-deserved raise, make sure to acknowledge how grateful you are for the job you have, the opportunities it has provided you and the experience that you have gained. Even if my boss did not grant my request for a bigger salary, I would have been gracious and accepted the job any way.

Don’t Let a ‘No’ Bring You Down. This might be the most important piece of advice that I have to give you. Don’t let a ‘no’ determine your value, or veer you off your desired path. Every single one of us will hear the word ‘no’ more than once in our lifetime. It doesn’t mean that you should give up, or that you don’t deserve what you asked for. We need to think of as ‘no’ as incentive to keep up the hard work and continue to challenge yourself. You’ll get there eventually. Also, I’ve found that the most personal and professional growth has come from situations where I don’t get what I want, and I have to figure out creative ways to make things work.

Now, most of these tips and tricks not only apply to asking for what you want in the workplace, but also in your personal life. I’ve found that the most meaningful lessons that I’ve learned at work also translate to my everyday life.

Do you have any tried and true tips on how to ask for what you want in the workplace? Share them in the comments!