I heard someone say once that they loved children because they were so honest. Obviously this person did not have children. Ask a child with chocolate smudged around their mouth standing next to an empty plate that once held a piece of chocolate cake if they ate the cake and without blinking an eye most will instantly answer, “No.” So much for honesty.
However; it is a whole different story when you ask a child what they want – they have no problem being honest and just laying it out there. Sometimes they even tell you without asking – they are honest that way.
A peculiar thing happens when we start to grow up; we stop telling other people what we want or need. I think it is a conditioning thing; we are told we are asking for too much, it is impossible to grant, we are silly for thinking of such things or worse yet that we are being selfish.
Then when we combine our desire to express our needs within relationship situations it gets worse. When I say relationships I mean both personal and business. It gets all confused and often times it comes across as a demand; i.e. if they other person does not provide it then the relationship will end. Because of this misconception too often we stop asking for what we want.
For example, in a working situation perhaps you are getting bored and you want to be included in more challenging projects. The dilemma comes in how to ask for more challenges without being perceived as ungrateful for what you have or threatening in a manner of it you do not get the opportunities you will look for a new job.
Before you get yourself all in a tizzy about this stop and take a breath. Think about the reasons for asking for what you want, as well as if you do get it will it make you happy? If you don’t like the people you work with and ask for more responsibility it is not going to address the personnel issues so ultimately it probably won’t make you happy.
It is important to identify the reasons behind the need in order that you can clarify them to the other party. On the flip side, identify the things that you are doing now that you enjoy or the positives about the relationship – you will need to include both of these elements into your request.
If you were to approach your boss about more responsibility I would suggest starting with thanking them for taking the time to speak with you; reiterate the aspects of your job that you really enjoy; point out your strengths; open the door by stating that you want to be an even more integral part or contributing member of the company and then request what you want.
It could sound something like this: “I know you have been really busy so I wanted to thank you for taking a few minutes to talk to me. Let me just start by saying I really love working on the corporate development side within our department; I think that my organization and follow up have been a really great contributing factor to a lot of our successes over the past year. If there is anything else you can think of that I can be doing to help even more I open to suggestions.
One thing that I have been thinking about is that I would really like to get more involved in a deeper level to help the company even more. I know we have a lot of membership events and I would like to be involved in those. I think I have a lot to offer those events and it would give me a chance to be challenged and grow even more within our department. I’m coming to you to see if we can make this happen and get your thoughts.”
No where in that conversation was there an implication of being unhappy or threatening to leave if the opportunity is not available.
You might think you are ready to go have this conversation – but wait. There are a couple more factors you need to prepare for: namely your reaction and statements to their response. Have three ready: one for acceptance of your proposal, one for rejection and one for a neutral response.
Will you need to provide examples to help sell yourself in the case of rejection? What if they try to give you a blow off response – are you going to let it die right then and there or will you respond that you will give them some time to think about it and offer to come back in a few days to circle back?
Another factor to consider is if you get the rejection – how will it make you feel? Will you feel resentful or upset? If so be mindful of this because if it comes across during your initial conversation then it is going to be perceived as a threat, not a request. There is a chance that the opportunity is not available at this time, ok, keep your eyes open and try again.
Of course it could be that they feel you are not quite ready. If that is the case be open to listening to their objections and suggestions as to what you can do to be better prepared; then do them.
Life would be wonderful if we all got what we wanted when we wanted it without additional effort – yeah, but that is not always the case. There may be factors that you are not even aware of that are hindering your ability to get what you want. Once these have been uncovered it is an opportunity to make adjustments or improvements in order to move forward.
Let’s be honest, if it is something you really want then you are not going to be opposed to working for it are you? If you are then I guess you really didn’t want it that much in the first place.
Lastly, I find that many people almost feel bad for asking for something that they want. Don’t. Hey, if it is something that is going to make you happier, more fulfilled and all around feel better about yourself than to heck with what anyone thinks – go for it. At the end of the day it is really all about what makes you happy. When you are more fulfilled and happy it is a natural progression for you to want to give more of yourself – and that is a win-win situation for all.
Don’t forget to logon to http://career.thegrindstone.com/sign-up/career-transition-workshop-series-1 to sign up for the kickoff session of Career Connect presented by The Grindstone! I’ll be talking about career progression. It’s going to be great so sign up today!!
Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW
Certified Professional Resume Writer
Career Polish, Inc.