Why is it so hard to ask for what we want? Maybe we think we’re not good enough to get it. But so many opportunities are beseeching us from the other side of that ask. It’s almost like a chain link fence- we press our faces to it- seeing, breathing, almost close enough to touch what’s on the other side- but ultimately kept apart from our desires by our own fears and self-doubt. Entrepreneurship requires a lot of asking- I should know-I have asked so many people for so many favors because I had no other option. At this point, I am unafraid to ask complete strangers for anything- but I still struggle with asking people I know.
A few weeks ago I asked for a raise- I had been living paycheck to paycheck for the last year but was afraid to ask for what I wanted because I was afraid I would get a no. I tried to insinuate that I wanted to make more money by asking my boss for extra work- but I never directly said, “Hey! I’m not being paid enough to fully support myself.” It was only until a few weeks ago when I realized I would be late on rent, again- I finally mustered up the courage to ask. My boss was shocked- he had no idea that I was struggling financially- and honestly, how could he know? I never fucking asked! I never complained- I just thought I could ask to do more work, or keep asking for more hours, or take gigs on the side. It literally took me saying “Hey! I need more money or I’ll have to look for another job, ” to get the raise. And yes! I got it. I got a raise and more hours- because I asked. I went direct to the source and I asked. I didn’t beat around the bush- I didn’t ask my co-workers what they thought- I just fucking did it. And it worked. And yes, it could’ve easily gone another way. He could’ve said no, and I would’ve just found another fucking job. As usual, the worst-case scenario really isn’t that worst-case.
The world would not have ended had I gotten a no, I would’ve just had to make a move. Perhaps that’s why we are afraid of asking- because we are afraid we might get what we want and not be able to handle it. Perhaps, there was a part of me that was afraid to get the raise because I wasn’t sure I would be able to handle the responsibility that came with it. Ah-ha. Dang, that was such an Oprah ah-ha moment for me. Self-doubt is a precarious son of a bitch ain’t it; always hiding in plain sight. I’m so over doubting myself, it’s very 2018- and I’m very much 2019 bitch.
Ok, so you’ve come here because you too are thinking of asking for something that takes a lot of chutzpah- or “balls” as we say in these parts. Here’s my advice based on what worked for me:
- Be Honest with yourself. Is it time for a raise? Do you feel like you’ve earned it?
- Be direct. Ask for what you want. Don’t ask for the salt when you really want the sugar. (even though eww… gross.. sugar- but you get me)
- Send an email. I like emails because it gives me a chance to edit and make sure the tone is appropriate. Keep it professional- no cussing unless you’re really trying to get fired and collect unemployment.
- Say thank you, then ask. In my email, I stated how thankful I was for the chance to work there, how grateful I was for all that I had learned, and how awesome the team was (all genuine sentiments, I’m v bad at kissing ass) – then I asked. You have to remind your boss why you deserve this- and humility never looks bad on anyone.
- Be ready for a no. It’s always best to mentally prepare yourself for a no. So in the event, you get a no, just make sure you are ready to make a move. Perhaps your boss will ask you for deliverables before he/she concedes- either way, things will have to change. Be prepared for that. I knew that if I got a no- I would make that move. As a matter of fact, I spent a month before I asked- updating my portfolio. Putting all my work online gave me the confidence I needed to believe that I was qualified to find another job if it came down to it. It might not hurt to update your resume and remind yourself what a bad-ass you are.
- Be ready for a yes. If you get a raise that will mean you have to step your game up. My boss straight up told me, “You’ve got to step it up- I believe in you, you are a strong designer, and I want you to be a part of my company, but you’ve got to step it up.” And honestly, I couldn’t disagree. My mind was so disheveled the last few months I was unable to focus at work. I was so preoccupied and anxious about my finances – yet paralyzed by fear to actually do something about it. When he told me I had to step up my work ethic I took ownership and agreed that I wouldn’t disappoint.
I am so thankful for the opportunity to prove myself and that’s really what asking comes down to. Look at every chance to ask as a chance to prove to yourself that you are unafraid- regardless of the outcome the very act takes a certain amount of courage and humility.
Go ahead and ask for it! I dare you.