Listen and Read: Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for What You Want
Don’t Expect Others to Read Your Mind
We’ve all been there. We’ve all needed help and wished someone would see our need and feel compelled to fill it. We do so much for others without asking for anything in return and wish our efforts would be validated when we need assistance.
This simply isn’t practical and is a root cause for many of the issues that come out on a therapist’s couch. In order to receive help, we need to actually articulate our need and get specific about it.
We can’t expect anyone to read our mind.
Only a very small segment of the population can be micro focused enough to see when someone needs help and be able to make things easier without being prompted.
The theory called The Diffusion of Responsibility states that people are less likely to take responsibility and do something if others are present.
There is a sense that someone else will surely step in and take the lead. Without the ask, the need remains unmet.
So, why don’t people ask for help?
● Being Overwhelmed
The most effective course of action to get support is knowing what you want, being prepared for help, and asking for help.
Know what you want
This seems simple – but is it? You may know you want help cleaning the house, and you likely have a running list in your head of the chores that could be done.
In order to ask for help, your recruits will need to know which chores need to be covered and what your expectations are for their completion. The more specific you are about what you need, the better.
Be prepared for help
Before you ask, be prepared. Have what you need on hand for the people supporting you. Do you need any physical items to get the help you need? Will the people supporting you need resources in order to help out?
Know what is needed to get the job done and be ready with it when the time comes.
You may have a running list in your head of what it takes to get the task completed, but that info has got to be transferred to the people helping you out.
Ask for help
Be direct. This doesn’t mean being forceful, bossy, or rude. Just be direct. “I need help getting Sarah to school on Tuesday morning, would she be able to catch a ride with you if I have her ready to go at 7:00 am?”
In this scenario you are stating what you want, specifying that you will have your
daughter ready at a very specific time, and being direct about what you need for support. All the bases are covered.
When life feels overwhelming, we may need a hug – and we will certainly need help. Confusing the need for emotional support with material support can be dangerous. If
you need help, understand that people can’t read your mind and will likely be supportive if you know what you need, are prepared for them to help, and you ask them directly for their help.
Asking Out Loud Helps You Figure Out What You Really Want
Have you ever witnessed a two-and-a-half-year-old child have a meltdown for what seems like no reason at all?
Parents of toddlers know that oftentimes the child doesn’t really know what it is that they want.
They can’t yet articulate their desires clearly enough to avoid the emotional meltdown.
The best way to help a toddler through the cognitive process of asking for help is to get them talking out loud. The process of talking helps them identify the pieces of the puzzle in their mind and helps them start to put those pieces together.
Soon we realize that she wants her dolly to eat a bowl of pretend mashed potatoes while she rides the unicorn.
Nothing much changes as we develop into adulthood. We sometimes need to process out loud to figure things out. Our mind can work in loops.
We go over and over the things that weigh on us, and sometimes the only way to break the loop is to speak out loud with someone else who can help us process those thoughts.
Asking out loud helps you figure out what you want, because there is someone else in the conversation to ask clarifying questions that require you to sort through the issue and get very clear on what you need in the way of help.
Having someone to process with you isn’t the only way to verbally sort through and identify what you really want. You can have a conversation with yourself when no one else is available.
Speaking and processing out loud is no different than practising a speech or public speaking.
The more you hear your own voice, the better you can identify with what is being said.
Things always sound clearer when spoken aloud than when heard in our minds.
Try recording yourself and replaying the one-way conversation. These voice notes are a great way to process out loud and be able to go back and review the ideas and details.
This is a perfect way of capturing information when the issue is at the top of mind, whether you are driving, exercising, or otherwise unable to write anything down.
Most smartphones have a voice note app factory-installed.
Sometimes the best way to sort through a problem and ask for help is to process the issue out loud in conversation. Whether you have the help of a friend, your smartphone, or are speaking to no one in particular, the act of speaking out loud helps you figure out what you really want.
From there you can make preparations to get the help you need.
Good Things Happen When You Start to Ask for What You Want
There is power in asking for what you want. It forces you to know yourself, what you prefer, and what you need. This clarity makes it possible to have a life filled with things you like, and the support that makes life easier and fun.
The result of asking for what you want is a ripple effect of good things that begin to materialize in your life. A satisfaction builds from living a fulfilled life by being direct and articulate about your needs.
People who don’t ask for what they want struggle with three things consistently:
People who don’t ask for what they want to feel unsupported by those closest to them at home and at work. They feel like they are always giving and compromising, while never having what they want. This is true: because no one knows what they want.
Being a martyr
This characteristic is found in people who will grudgingly support others’ decisions while sacrificing their own personal desires. This is a psychological complex based on repeating patterns that places oneself in a victim role.
People can sense your underlying anger and resentment and will naturally avoid being in a relationship with someone who acts like this.
Being passive aggressive
Without the ability to ask for what they want, people can resort to silently aggressive or sabotaging behavior to leak out their frustrations without a face-to-face confrontation.
This behavior perpetuates the anger they feel and can cause rifts in relationships.
Being able to ask for what you want removes these struggles and makes it possible to have higher quality relationships and personal satisfaction.
People who ask for what they want experience these three good things:
People who ask for what they want will generally receive it: from going to their favorite restaurant on date night to watching the blockbuster movie they’ve been waiting for. By asking for what their hearts desire, they usually find that it can happen. Feeling valued comes from being able to have your needs and wants routinely met.
People who are direct, who know what they want, and ask for it in polite ways are respected. They are viewed as trustworthy and safe to be in relationship with. They are seen as being leaders and highly confident.
The knowledge that you are valued and respected builds on itself and causes your confidence to bloom. Being a well-functioning person is attractive and rewarding.
People enjoy being in a relationship with confident people, and they tend to have more rewarding life experiences while not letting petty things get in their way.
Of course, the material things that come from asking for what you want are nice – but the bigger prize is the experience of being in healthy relationships that are rewarding
and respectful. Living your life with a sense of value and reciprocity is never a bad thing.
Start Small and Work Your Way Up to Asking for Bigger Things
If you’ve lived your life unable or unwilling to ask for what you want or need, it can feel like speaking a foreign language.
Your tongue can’t seem to form the words “Would you, could you, will you”? Let alone, “I’ll have, I’d like, I’ll take…” It’s going to take some practice to get you ready for asking for bigger things.
Here’s some ways to start small and work your way up to asking for bigger things:
Pick a restaurant
When someone asks, “Where should we eat?” be ready with your answer. Pick your favorite place and get ready for Taco Tuesday or French Fry Friday!
Pick a movie
Hate horror flicks and love a great rom-com? The next time you go to a movie, ask to see the movie you want to see and grab some popcorn with extra butter.
Delegate one chore
Passing on responsibility can be hard for many reasons but getting the help you need is more important than any reason you may have for hesitating.
Delegate to someone else one chore that you can let go of that will make a positive impact for you.
Ask a friend for help
Admitting to a friend that we could use some help can feel vulnerable. A good-sized medium ask includes exposing a need to a friend and getting their support. Need help tackling an out of control closet?
Ask a friend who loves to organize for their help getting your space in order. You might be pleasantly surprised to learn they want to help.
Outsource help at home
Many of the places we feel overwhelmed and in need of help are tied to our home. From lawns to mow to weeds to pull and ceiling fan blades to clean, we just can’t seem to get ahead. Outsourcing some tasks at home can free up time and energy better used in other places.
Have an important conversation with your spouse about rearranging your budget to get the help you need.
Share a secret desire with your spouse
This may feel like a big ask, but it really is a medium-sized ask. Approach your spouse with a long-held wish for your relationship that will make it stronger and happier.
Consider what you’d love to be, do, or have in your relationship and ask your spouse to come on board with your plan. When they see the benefits they get from your happiness, they will be glad to help out.
Ask for support from your boss
Admitting that you need help at work might feel like a suicide mission, but it needn’t be the end of the world. Oftentimes, employers want to know when a system isn’t working or there is a way to increase production and desired outcomes.
The key to this big ask is already having a solution in mind when you approach the boss. Come to them with a solution to a problem and the answer is usually Y.E.S.
Ask for the job
Do you keep waiting to be noticed? Are you putting in effort hoping that the right person will take action and hire you?
Fortune favors the bold is a common translation of a Latin proverb. If you want the customer, the contract, or the job…
Renegotiate a contract
Contracts are meant to be binding, but sometimes there are windows of opportunity to make changes. If you are unhappy with a service or a contract, don’t passively suffer. Be bold and ask for change.
The worst that can happen is that nothing changes, and the best thing is renewed confidence and a new, more beneficial contract.
Learning a new language takes time and practice. It’s the same for learning new behaviors. Developing the confidence to ask for what you want is easier if you take it in small steps, building on one another.
Start with small asks and gather momentum as you reach higher and receive more.
5 Tips for Making It Easier to Ask for What You Want
Asking for what you want may feel uncomfortable and awkward, which may mean you try to avoid it no matter how badly you want help. Practice will give you the experience and confidence to take bolder steps and be more assertive with your asks.
Before you start shooting for the moon asking for what you want, consider these 5 tips:
1. Know yourself
Knowing yourself is a form of confidence. Knowing who you are, what makes you tick, and what your strengths and your weaknesses are what gives you a firm foundation to know where you are coming from with your ask.
The more you know about yourself, and the more self-aware you are about your limitations, the better you can be at interpersonal relationships.
Striving to be whole and healthy reduces our negative traits like arrogance, aggression, and playing the victim. People who know themselves well are decisive and self-assured.
They ask for help when they need it and are less likely to be unnecessarily needy or over-reliant. This increases the likelihood they will get what they want and what they need.
2. Be consistent
Be consistent with your expectations. Those in relationship with you will be able to better predict your behavior and may be more able to help without being asked. If you consistently ask for help unloading the car full of groceries – and show cheerful gratitude for their help – before long, the family will start meeting you at the car when you pull in.
3. Value opinions
People value us for what we value. If you want your opinions and desires to matter, be aware of the opinions and desires of others. Be inclusive, communal, and concerned about the needs of those around you – but not at the expense of your own. If your children witness you valuing what they ask of you and you present a model how to ask and to be asked, you are setting an excellent example for them as they grow.
4. Be unattached to the outcome
When asking a question, no must be an acceptable answer, or it isn’t a question – it’s a command. Be comfortable with hearing the word “no” and moving on. Asking for help and not ending up receiving it can be a bummer, but it is also an important part of reality. Sometimes people can’t help.
Sometimes they won’t. Being able to regroup, move on, and either ask someone else or find a different solution is the key. Don’t let yourself be crushed and turn rejection into personal pain.
Try small, safe asks and work up to big, bold asks whenever you can. This is like learning a new language. Asking has its own way about it, and over time you will get the hang of it.
These tips will ensure you have the foundation and the mindset you need to ask for what you want and build wonderful relationships.
You’ll be living a life where asking and being asked go hand in hand.