Have you ever ended up in a situation where things didn’t turn out the way you had hoped? What did you do? Did you roll with it or try to make changes?
Sometimes there is nothing you can do to influence outcomes, but more often than you might realize, you have a say in the direction things take. All it takes is asking for what you want.
I’ll give you an example of how it works…
Recently at my corporate job there was a situation that was causing me a lot of frustration. Some of you might remember I moved to a new position about a year ago, and things with my responsibilities did not play out the way I had expected. One part of the job I wasn’t thrilled about, which was supposed to be a very small part, ended up being a very large part. After months of managing this and thinking it would get better, I finally came to the realization it wouldn’t. This work needed to be done and it wasn’t going away.
So, I started to take a hard look at what I wanted to do about the situation. Once I had my self clear on how I would like to see it play out, I talked to my manager about moving these responsibilities out of my job. He acknowledged the situation, and very quickly came up with a solution to transfer those responsibilities elsewhere in his organization. There is now light at the end of the tunnel for me to have the job I had hoped for.
Would this have happened if I had not asked? Maybe, but certainly not on the schedule its on right now. This is not the only time I’ve influenced the direction of my corporate career by asking for what I want. It’s worked in my personal life and relationships too.
I’ve discovered that asking for what I want is a powerful tool. That’s not to say it’s easy though! Any time you need to ask for something, it means you are in a situation where you can’t fully control the outcome. You need help from the person you are asking. So how can you approach it? I have a few tips based on what’s worked for me…
- Know what you want. Before you can have a conversation with any one else, you have to be clear on what you want, and why. Spend some time to define the current situation, and then your ideal situation. Spend time to understand why your current situation is not working for you. Make sure your desires are coming from the right place; that you are not reacting from an emotional place. If you ask for a change in your situation, but what you really want is a change in someone else’s behavior, that’s not necessarily going to work.
- Ask respectfully. It never helps to start this kind of conversation with demands. It will push the other person into a corner where they have to defend, which is not likely to help you change. What you want is to bring them along with you, so that you are working together to find a solution.
- Make suggestions. Along the lines of working together to find a solution, making suggestions on how to make what you want happen, especially if they consider the needs of the person you are asking, will go a long way to helping you get the answer you are hoping for.
- Know what you are willing to accept. Once you get up the nerve to ask, you have to acknowledge there are a range of possible outcomes. Think about where you are flexible and where you are not. Often, in the work to get clear, you will discover firm boundaries that you no longer are willing to pass. Consider the possible answers to your request, and how you will respond to them.
- Listen. Once you have opened the door to the topic and started the conversation, you need to realize that it’s now a two-way street. As much as you want to be heard, you need to listen to the other party too. Understand their needs and pain points, and you will better be able to address them and create a win-win situation.
- Realize change doesn’t happen immediately. Sometimes ideas need to sink in for people. So maybe you bring up your request the first time, then let it rest and sink in, then bring it up again days or weeks later. Know who you are talking to and how quickly they might respond.
My change happened so quickly in part because my manager and I had been talking for months about how to limit these responsibilities, so my request didn’t come out of the blue. But it was the first time I fully asked for what I wanted, to have the responsibilities moved to someone else, so I could focus on the aspects of the job I truly wanted. It was also the first time I had considered that I might not be able to move them out if my job, and how I would respond. That clarity was important too.
The outcome reminded me, once again, of how powerful simply asking for what you want can be.
Have you ever used a similar strategy to effect change in you life? Share your experiences and tips with us here.