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How To Get What You Want (Most of the Time)

There are ways of improving your chances, asking is chief among them.

Key points

  • Asking for what you want is more likely to deliver it than waiting to be offered.
  • The same principles apply whether you're asking a partner for something new or a boss for a raise.
  • Your ask is more likely to succeed if accompanied by reasons for it—and a commpliment.

One of the tenets of a happy and successful life is to step up and ask for what you want. That’s true whether it’s a toy in nursery school playroom, a raise at work, or a change in the couples agreement you live by with your partner. Among all the reasons to back this up is that you are much more likely to get what you want by asking for it than by waiting for it (whatever it is) to be offered to you.

Here are some suggestions and general rules for getting what you want in differing circumstances:

To a friend who calls too often, at the wrong time, drops by without calling, or any other annoying habit: “Judith, I always enjoy talking with/seeing you but my life is extraordinarily busy now with (examples). Let me call you or make a date very soon when things calm down.” Might her feelings be hurt? Yes, that’s a possibility. But it's less likely if you pad your request with a compliment and a promise of things being different in the future.

To a boss from whom you want a raise: “Ms. Green, I have looked over my last few performance reviews and they are excellent. However there has been no raise accompanying them. Don’t you think it’s only fair to reward my good performances for the past year?” Might you still not get a raise? Yes, but you are more likely to get one when you back up your request with good reasons.

To a romantic or life partner: “Honey, this is a difficult situation to discuss, but I think it’s time. I would like to change up our sex together, use new build-ups, positions, activities. I enjoy making love with you, and I just don’t want it to become routine. Think about it. You don’t either, do you?”

These are only three specific suggestions, but but perhaps they can be applied to situations in your own life. In general

  • Give some good reason so the person you’re asking might be likely to understand and comply with your request.
  • It doesn’t hurt to include a compliment with the request.
  • If something you want is on your mind but you have difficulty asking for it don’t sit on it. Find a way and a good time and place to ask. It certainly increases your chances of getting what you want!
More from Isadora Alman MFT, CST
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