Asking for what you need is a critical skill for women in business. Everyone has times when they have to say “I need (this)”—and while you’re not always met with a “yes”, there are things you can do to influence the outcome you want.

It’s a topic we discuss in Leadership Presence for Women and in the spirit of International Women’s Day, here’s a few do’s and don’ts for making your next ask.

In the next week, ask for something you need without hesitation or hedging! It can be as small as help with a project or as big as requesting a raise. But whatever it is, use these tips and go for it.

And report back, I’d love to hear how it goes.


Here’s a transcript of the above video:

So we’ve told you to make the ask. Maybe you’re asking for additional resources, a raise, a promotion, a mentor, a new account or assignment. You’re ready. You’ve got the opportunity.

Here are a few do’s and don’ts to help you get the result you want. Let’s start with the don’t’s:

Don’t hedge. Be clear and direct. Let them ask the questions. Don’t introduce them along with your ask. “I know sometimes there are concerns about (x).” Or, “I know you’re really busy, but…” Or, “It might not be time for this, but…” Get to the point. Pick the main thing that you need to say and start with that.

Don’t apologize. “Sorry to bother you.” “Sorry, not sure if you have a few extra minutes.” “Sorry, there’s one more thing.” Saying I’m sorry for no reason weakens your message and your presence. At times, it can even have a bigger cost. If you’re asking for a deadline extension, additional resources, or even a raise, the last thing you want to do is start your pitch with “I’m sorry.” Instead, get to the point.

Don’t self-sabotage. “I’d understand if we can’t take this on because of (x).” Or, “It’s okay if there isn’t budget for this but I was wondering…” Or, “I would understand if we’re not ready for this based on the last Town Hall meeting.” While it can be great to consider all the possible objections, you should not be the one to introduce them. Don’t explain why not to grant your request or what lower investment options could also be suitable.

Don’t soften. “I just sort of want…” “I just wanted to tell you…” “I’m just checking in.” “I just wondered.” Every time you use or write the word “just” it softens whatever word follows it. It actually reduces your credibility. The opposite of your intent.

Now, here’s what to do.

Do: Meet your listener where they are. Is this request on their radar? Is it coming from left field? Be sure to add context. Just because you’ve been gearing up for it doesn’t mean that they’ve thought about it at all.

Do: Frame the value. It’s not selfish to ask if you make it about them. Tell why it matters. That’s right, frame up the benefits! What’s in it for them? What helps the business, the initiative, the broader context, besides you?

Do: Identify your own internal filters that are getting in the way. Are you the one putting limits on what you can do? Are you worried about a knowledge gap, experience gap, confidence gap, resource gap, or is it something else? Figure out what you’re worried about and re-think what you’re capable of saying yes to. You set the tone for how others see you.

Alright, and our final do? Do it! Now is the time. Make the ask.

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