From the Season of Giving to a Season of Asking

Lisa P. Gaynier | Project Heard | Woman of Power

As women, what holds us back from asking for what we want and need?

'Tis the season of giving.  And as women, we often give selflessly -- sometimes too selflessly.  So in this season of giving, I find myself thinking about our needs as women and what we ask for from others.  How do we ask for what we want and what we need?  Do we always ask when we should? What holds us back from asking?

Authors Linda Babcock  and Sara Laschever  have written several books on this subject, including "Women Don't Ask: Negotiation and the Gender Divide".  What they found is that whether women want higher salaries, flexible schedules, or more help at home; we often find it hard to ask for what we really want and need.  Their research shows that sometimes we don't know that change is possible—and we don't realize that we need to ask for it. Sometimes we are operating out of fear that asking may damage an important relationship. Most disturbing to me is that women sometimes don't ask because we've learned that society can react badly to women asserting their own needs and desires.

So as I am finishing up my Christmas shopping for everyone else, I decided to take a look at some of my wants and needs for the next year.  I started with something simple.  I created a Christmas wish list for myself on Amazon.com and shared it with my family.  At first, my teenage children were surprised and a little put off that I would actually ask for things for myself.  They got over it when I reminded them of all the things I do for them.  My husband actually appreciated knowing what I would like, because he said that he sometimes struggles to know what I want for gifts.  Of course, I will be thankful for anything that I receive for Christmas, and I am pretty proud of myself for asking for what I want. 

Next, I am taking a look at my professional wants and needs for the next year and beyond.  One of the things that I want to be sure that I do is to take all of my vacation/PTO. I usually lose a few vacation days every year, because I realized that sometimes I don’t take the time to ask for things even when I have earned them. 

I am also looking at my personal and professional growth and development goals.  Like everyone, I would love to have a raise, but am I willing to ask for it?  Am I ready for more responsibility or new challenges at work?  I could also ask to attend training courses and conferences that would help me re-energize and improve my performance.  Asking for these things is going to require some research and planning on my part.  I found an article in the Telegraph from March 2017, where author Michelle deKlerk shares "How to get what you want at work - the secrets of successful women".  As we move into 2018, I think this is a great place to begin.  Here is my interpretation of the 10 secrets:

  1. Figure out what you want.  Create a vision and a strategy.  Think in both short-term and long-term goals.  You can’t plan for your journey if you don’t know where you are going.
  2. Know your stuff.  Do your homework.  If you are asking for a raise, is it financially feasible for the organization?  If you are asking for training – can you articulate the ROI to the organization?
  3. Ask for help.  Don't be afraid to ask your support network for help and advice.  Very few people get to the top without asking for help.  Network and talk to other successful women and men.   Get multiple perspectives.
  4. Stick to your values. Don’t be afraid to walk away from a situation that compromises your values. Never apologize for your point of view – being true to yourself is the foundation of growth and resilience.
  5. Be tenacious.  If you don’t ask, you don’t get.  You can ask nicely, but you have to ask, and sometimes you have to keep asking.
  6. Believe.  You have to believe in yourself, and believe that what you want is possible.
  7. Celebrate your wins.  When you have a success, take time to stop and reflect.  Milestones are motivational markers on the road to success. 
  8. Learn to accept criticism and feedback.  If you are going to ask tough questions, you have to be ready for the feedback.  Criticism shouldn’t keep you from asking again.
  9. Trust your gut.  You know yourself better than anyone else. Look at how far you have come, and trust that you have what it takes to continue the journey. 
  10. Set up a good team.  Surround yourself with a network of people who have more and/or different knowledge and experience than you do,  

So in this season of giving, I am thinking about and planning for my own season of asking in 2018.  What are you going to ask for?


 

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Posted by Heather Steranka in Spotlight

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