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Ask for what you want – you just might get it!

Ask for what you want – you just might get it!

Nicola Hopes

23 November 2021

One of the things my best mate likes about me is that I’m not afraid to (politely) ask for what I want. (Accepting, of course, that I may not always get it). This is often helped by a side-order of cheek – I can’t help it, it’s genetic. 

But I’m often surprised how uncomfortable others are with making the request that needs to be made. 

Do you agonise about the ‘big conversation’ you need to have with 

(a) the keeper of the purse strings or (b) the granter of wishes? 

Would you rather listen to an in-depth analysis of your colleague’s recent cycling challenge (yawn) than set up that session where you lay bare your requests? 

Whether it’s what you need to deliver that project, realise the strategy or super-charge your team, for some, getting that need met feels like all kinds of alchemy. And only those with the right handshake will get the go ahead.

But I think it’s simpler than that. And it starts with asking for what you want. 

  1. Make a clear request / recommendation. 
  2. Back it up with persuasive information – data, visual and gut – and what happens if they don’t do it. 
  3. Listen to their feedback and refine.  
  4. Pop the champagne – [optional]. 

So many times, I’ve witnessed a Board or Steering discussion where we waste time with options too numerous to count and everybody gets lost. 

Too often I’ve seen the expert in the room not have the confidence to firmly say what we should do. 

And worse, I’ve seen those big conversations dodged for fear of confrontation or disagreement. 

Give yourself the best chance for a ‘yes’ 

There are, of course, sophisticated techniques you can use to persuade your colleagues about a great idea.  

But in my many years of experience in helping people get what they need (backed up by some research by Forbes) you can start with some simple ways to get heard: 

  • Speak with conviction – let’s leave the false modesty at the door, please. Don’t dismiss your idea before they’ve even heard it by apologising. 
  • Make it a conversation – not a monologue. Invite people in, ask open questions, respond positively to input. 
  • Get to the point – get people hooked on the main point and ruthlessly cull the detail. Start strong and give them a reason to keep listening.  

It doesn’t have to feel like subservience. And it doesn’t have to feel like being granted a favour to be forever grateful for.  

If you need it, you need it. So, ask! 

Give it a try and see what happens – and don’t forget to tell me how it goes. 

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