We recently ran a great webinar all about how to ask for what you need and following on from this we kept getting asked for the hints and tips so that people could pass them on more easily… so I’ve put it all together into this article.

Why did we decide on the subject of having the confidence to ask for what you need?

Jo and I coach a lot of people each year and we’ve found that the inability to ask for what you need feeds the low self-esteem villain that sits on your shoulder and whispers in your ear with the “I told you so”, “I said that would happen” and “hah you’re not worth it” (recognise any of those ?)

What happens when we don’t ask for what we need?

  • Have you found yourself frustrated with a partner or friend who seems to expect a lot from you and yet doesn’t seem to give back in quite the same way? So what’s the danger there?
    • Resentment
    • Lack of trust
    • Feeling unloved
    • Feeling unwanted
    • Thinking that you are not understood
    • Breakdown of relationship
    • Looking for that ‘understanding’ elsewhere
  • Have you suffered times of sheer exhaustion because you are taking on so much and not asking for the support you need or admitting that you need it?
  • What about finding that you are so busy feeling and thinking that you have to do everything that the things that you want to do fall off the bottom of the list?
  • And we can get overlooked at work for that promotion, we get stuck in a pigeon hole, become demotivated and resentful and then what is the knock-on effect to our home lives?
  • Or our business relationships suffer, we are negotiating from a position of weakness and we enter into agreements that don’t meet our financial needs and even lose money!

So first of all


Spend some time thinking about what it is that you do need. Recognise how you are feeling and consider what is it that you want to have happen and what do you need for that to happen.

Mind reading

Then realise that people are not mind-readers.  You don’t know what other people are thinking or feeling and why should they be the same with you?

Complaining about your problems doesn’t solve them and constantly thinking and talking about unmet needs won’t fulfil them. Whether you want your work colleagues to communicate with you more often about a team project, or you want to be put forward for a more senior role, it’s crucial to be assertive in conveying what you want. We often assume our partners, bosses, work colleagues and even our good friends can read our minds. So when they don’t act as we’d like, we end up hurt and upset. For relationships to thrive, both parties have to take responsibility for clearly communicating their needs.

Be clear about what would work better for you

It’s a rule of life that you get what you tolerate so let people know what isn’t working for you. Such requests will go a long way to eliminating the ‘tolerations’ in your life. Whether it’s asking a team member to show up on time or asking your colleague to stop making inappropriate jokes.

Every day, through what you say and do, you teach others how to treat you.  If you allow others to take you for granted, to overstep your boundaries, or to be outright disrespectful, you are complicit in it.  Letting others know what you expect from them as well as what you will (and will not) tolerate is crucial to both your professional success and personal well being.

So ask yourself, what are you no longer willing to tolerate? Therein lies the boundary that you alone must set and the requests you alone must make.  So tell then what would work better for you next time, you cannot change what’s happened, you can take control of what happens next.

Forget hints – be direct

If you like to take the less confrontational (and often ineffective) route of dropping hints to get others to behave differently, we have bad news for you: hints just don’t cut it.  If you don’t want to be ignored, you have to be direct and explicit!

Making a general comment to a group of people, “It would be great if people around here would get to meetings on time” is far too passive. It would be better to speak directly to the serial late-comer, let them know you find it disrespectful of everyone’s time, and ask them if they are both willing and able to commit to being punctual in the future.

If they’re not, then clearly more conversations are needed to address underlying issues, and at the same time, at least the issue is on the table and you know where things stand. Same for any situation that causes you frustration – be direct.

Stop being a martyr

I’m going to guess that sometimes you can feel guilty and put your needs ahead of others. But when we get caught in the trap of trying to be all things to all people, we can quickly find ourselves falling short on all fronts, and winding up resentful, burnt out and not being the person we want to be for anyone – much less for ourselves.

Who’s that serving?!  The more requests being made of you, the more you need to make of others.

Moving your own needs higher in your priority list is therefore not selfish, it’s smart. So enough with the guilt-driven martyr act.  Your needs matter too so make sure you know what you want.

Don’t make a ‘no’ mean more than it does

Let’s be realistic, you won’t always get what you ask for. Your manager won’t always give you the promotion you’d like and your friends might not be able to come round and support you every other evening.  Such is life. When people say no, it’s not meant as a personal rejection – accept it graciously and move on.  At least now you know where things stand and you can plan accordingly.

Asking for less than you want – from yourself, from others and life – doesn’t serve anyone, so try asking for what you want. Who knows… you might just get it!

So what can you do to ask for what you need?

Be bold in what you ask for (don’t dilute it down!)

The reality is that you will rarely, if ever, be given more than what you dare to ask for. So don’t dilute down your requests to minimise the possibility of being turned down. Think about what your ideal outcome would be and then confidently, courageously, ask for it. Not in an entitled way. Not in an aggressive way. But in a way that conveys that you know your worth.

Whilst you may not always get what you want (whether it is an increase in pay or a new project at work) you will nearly always end up with more than you would have received otherwise had you not been bold in your request.

Be specific about what you want and when you want it

In life, the biggest reason for unmet expectations is a lack of understanding of exactly what it was that we expected.  Asking someone to do something “soon” can be interpreted in all sorts of ways.

For a request to be more easily met it’s not just “what” you’d like, but also the time frame in which you want it. That is, both a clear and unambiguous “what” and “when.” For example, “Could you please get the monthly overtime report to me by 2 pm Friday?” It’s unreasonable to expect to get what you want if people are not given clear information.

What’s important to you?

Those things you hold important to you, your values are your drivers in life.  So think before you ask for what you need.  What is important to you about the outcome you want?  It’s these things that will give you the impetus to continue forward and the momentum to be bold, direct and ask for what you want and give you the confidence to just ask.

How else can you grow your confidence?

Jo and I have enabled 1000’s of people to get the inner confidence and skills and make an incredible and positive impact on their lives. We’ve run hugely empowering confidence acceleration events in London to a packed audience and virtually everybody who attended wants to bring along their friends and family! Contact us to find out when the next event is.

Our events and training allow you to:

  • Stop being frustrated with your lack of progression or business growth and that people do not seem to be listening to you or seeing you
  • Find you no longer want to bury your ideas because you don’t have the level of self-belief your need to take them forward
  • Move your relationships forward in the way that you want to
  • Be able to have those difficult conversations and speak up for what you believe in
  • Get the recognition you deserve because and have the confidence to stand out
  • Gain significant business or revenue because you now have the confidence to negotiate effectively
  • Have the confidence to make that life change you have been putting off because you will now have the self-belief to take the plunge
  • Be comfortable saying No’ to the things that are just wrong for you
  • Saying ‘Yes’ to things that fulfil your needs

So to find out more contact us and find out when the next event is.