“I’d like a 20 percent increase in my base salary and a review of my stock option allocation, please.”
My heart was beating quickly, but my demeanor was calm. I was talking to my boss after a stellar sales year and felt due for a significant financial boost. I was leaning forward in my seat with a smile on my face and the intention to leave that conversation feeling satisfied.
Did I put off this meeting a hundred times? Hell yes! But did I allow my fear to stop me from earning my potential? Hell no!
Asking is a superpower I pray more people harness. Why? Because if you don’t ask questions, you are making wild, uninformed assumptions. You miss out. You lose before you begin.
If you don’t ask, the answer is always no.
It’s as simple as this: If you don’t ask, the answer is always no. And when you give a lot—at work, in relationships, in life—you are entitled to receive in return. It’s the awesome cycle of reciprocity in action.
Think about it: We make assumptions so rapidly and effortlessly that silence us from asking questions that could change our lives.
Here are a few (often unwarranted) assumptions that I hear all the time:
- “He/she would never go out with me.”
- “My manager wouldn’t consider me for that promotion.”
- “I couldn’t get an interview at that company.”
- “But you need a college degree to do that.”
- “There are no discounts in stores/hotels/spas like this one.”
- “My husband/wife should know what I want—I shouldn’t have to tell them.”
The Power of Communication
Big or small, our fears keep us closed to the mega-watt benefits that asking can deliver. When you have the courage to ask for what you want, you become a divine force of power in the world, opening doors where others see none and creating opportunities that most people might never see as possible. You also lose the assumption that other people magically know what you want (which is wild, wishful thinking). You must communicate and ask.
Here are some things that I have asked for so far in my life with positive results:
- An apology from a sexist online commenter to women everywhere. (I was shocked when he complied, and my faith in humanity was—somewhat—restored.)
- A job in New York City when I arrived here with no network, no local experience, a pending work visa, and an incomplete college degree. (I received two awesome offers and accepted the highest paying.)
- A well-meaning friend to stop asking when I am going to get pregnant.
- My husband to be more patient and compassionate with my sometimes demanding relatives.
- A friend of mine in Sydney whom I really miss to meet me somewhere we could both get a direct flight. We picked Tokyo and had a blast!
- Discounts—on everything from bananas at a street vendor (when I am 25 cents short) to international flights to skinny jeans.
- An acquaintance to hook me up with a cool influencer friend she knows.
- A successful professional I know to meet with a graduate I met to give him some career advice in the design field. (Connecting others feels awesome.)
- A friend to let me in emotionally when she was struggling with the decision to divorce. (Hey, I’ve been there—you don’t have to pretend everything is OK.)
When we don’t ask for what we want, we make way too many assumptions on what is possible for our lives.
Asking takes courage, yes. But it delivers clarity and brings immense opportunity for growth, for receiving, for success. When we don’t ask for what we want, we make way too many assumptions on what is possible for our lives and massively limit what we can be, do, and have. It also limits our opportunities to give back to others, as there is no such thing as a one-way street when it comes to the law of giving and receiving.
And yes, I did get that raise—and another one after that when I asked again a year later. A question might take a dose of courage to ask, but in that moment of being brave and vulnerable, you can make something happen with eternal benefits. What will you finally ask for this year?
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This article originally appeared in Greatist.com