Have you missed out on a promotion at work because you were too afraid to ask? Are you secretly jealous of that girl or guy at work that always seems to get what they want? Have you ever had a crush on someone but was too afraid to ask him or her out on a date, and years later found out that they felt the same way? The key to successfully creating a life you love is to ask, but it’s also the number one area that a majority of people struggle with; The majority of us spend our time wishing, giving subtle hints, or expecting people to read our minds; as a result you become unhappy and envious of others who seemingly always end up with the promotion you wanted, the upgrade you were too afraid to ask for, the room with the ocean view, the date you really wanted, or the investment you required for your business. Isn’t it about time you stepped out of the shadows and discovered the reason why do you struggle to ask for what you want, and how to ask for what you want in a way that increases your chances of getting it! 


The Reason Why People are Afraid to Ask.

The number one reason why, people fail to ask for what they want is because they are afraid of rejection, or simply put they fear the answer, no. As an attempt to shelter themselves from rejection, they avoid asking, and as a consequence, they end up rejected themselves. I’m sure you’ve heard that age-old saying, plan for the worst but expect the best, well, the majority of people, just expect the worst, they automatically assume the answer will be no; no, you will not have an upgrade. Ask yourself, what have I got to lose? What if they answer is no, have I lost anything? 


I too have fallen into the trap of assuming the worst, and I did this with my love life, like most people I assumed that every guy online was either socially inept or boring, and I even started to convince myself that there wasn’t someone out there for me. One day I realised, that I was self-sabotaging my love life, and I choose to do something about it. That day I started my second blog, The Single Girl, some of the mot popular posts can still be found on my website today. I decided to document the process of finding a guy. I stopped making huge negative assumptions, and started assuming, yes, I can find someone who is right for me, and I eventually after many not so great first dates, I found a guy who was perfect for me, and ironically, I found him online! This process didn’t happen overnight, but I started to have the love life I always wanted, and I achieved it by making a few small changes, the first assuming the best, and the second was, asking. Why is the possibility of a no, so daunting? How does the fear of a potential no hold us back?

‘We may lay it down that Pleasure is a movement, a movement by which the soul as a whole is consciously brought into its normal state of being; and that pain is the opposite.’ – Aristotle


Answering the Age-Old Question: Why?

Have you ever wondered why; why do you do the things you do? You really  want to eat right and go to the gym but, you seem to fail; you want to ask for a promotion at work and you continually put it off. There is strong biological evidence that as humans we seek pleasure and avoid what we perceive as pain. We are constantly in a pleasure and pain continuum, Aristotle once said, “We may lay it down that Pleasure is a movement, a movement by which the soul as a whole is consciously brought into its normal state of being; and that pain is the opposite.” The relationship between pleasure and pain lies in, pain decreases pleasure, and reward increases relief from pain. This means, as humans we avoid pain at all costs, in favour of the pursuit of pleasure. The reason why you fail to ask for what you want is simple, you associate asking or the events resulting from the asking as more painful than staying in your current circumstances. For those of us who are not natural risk takers, who perceive pleasure in taking a risk, will choose to stay with what is comfortable, as opposed to embracing the unknown. The key to breaking out of this pleasure and pain cycle is to start to associate more pain and unhappiness in not taking action, and perceiving pleasure in asking for what you want, or the possible outcomes.


The Secrets to Asking for What You Want

Now that you have a grasp of the reason why you are afraid to ask for what you want, and have a grasp of the psychology behind your behaviour, you can take the next brave step and start asking for what you want. When you get clear about what you want and need, and become brave enough to ask for it, you expand your capacity to accomplish more. There are three secrets to becoming clear about what you want and asking for it; be bold, get clear, and understand what no really means.

Be Bold

Ask as if you expect to receive what you are asking for; ask with a positive expectation. When you ask for an upgrade or a room with an ocean view, pitch an opportunity to a potential investor, or even a promotion, assume you can get it. When you ask from a place that says, I may not get what I want, you will look unsure or insecure, no one has ever received a promotion or won over potential investors with a feeling of insecurity. The harsh reality is you are rarely given for more than what you ask for. As Maggie Warrell suggests, in Stop Playing It Safe, “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.” Unfortunately, you do not always get what you ask for, you will, however, end up with more than what you asked for if you were never bold with your request.

Being bold means being clear about what you want and asking for it in a way that displays confidence; the opposite of this is taking the less confrontational route of dropping hints. If you subtly hint that you are not happy at work, instead of mapping out a proposal for a potential promotion, then, I have bad news for you; a subtle hint will not work.  If you don’t want to be ignored, you have to be direct.

 Get Clear

As a rule, a vague request will produce a vague response, for the sake of consistency, I will use the promotion as an example, If you ask for a promotion at work but are vague about the areas of your career that you wish to build and expand upon, you could end up with anything, with whatever extra tasks that your boss has on his or her to-do list. The key to getting exactly what you want is to plan ahead and set goals, then go and ask; asking isn’t enough, on its own, you need to be clear to get the result you really want; most people are too busy being preoccupied with what their own goals and deadlines, this is especially true of your boss, getting clear shows you are taking your career seriously, and you are valuable employee, thus, an asset to their company.


Understand What No Really Means

Unfortunately, you will not always get what you want even if you ask for it in the right way; sometimes life can seem hard. You work really hard, stay back late and you get knocked back for a promotion, the person you like doesn’t feel the same way, you are no eligible for an upgrade this time around, or you can’t find someone to mind the children so you can have a night off. The key to success lies in understanding that a no is simply a no, it isn’t personal, just another opportunity to move on and keep asking. If you ask for a promotion at work, and you get knocked back, you have two options prove your value or seek other opportunities. Understand that there are going to be some moments of rejection along the way to achieving your goal, at least now you know where you stand, and you have the opportunity to plan you next course of action.

As humans, we seek pleasure and avoid pain at all costs, we perceive a potentially less than favourable response to asking for a promotion at work, pitching to potential investor, asking for a room with an ocean view, and perceive that staying where we are, a place where things are comfortable, and risk getting what we want, all because we assume a negative outcome. The key to getting what we want out of life is to be bold, get clear, and to start understanding what no really means.

As always insight without action is futile! Firstly, tell me how you are going to implement the frameworks from this article to improve your life or business now? Do you have any tips on becoming better at asking for what you want that you would like to share? I want to hear your story, please do so by starting or join in with the discussion below. Thank you for reading, sharing and commenting with such kindness and enthusiasm.


With love,

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Amelia Hay

Author + Coach at Amelia Hay International
I help multi-passionate women just like you to package, brand and market your passions so that you can create your dream business and life, find clarity, confidence, and clients, and make a difference in your world.
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