A practical guide for building the confidence to ask for what you want.
Kids Say (Ask) the “Darndest” Things
As a child, I remember being the kid that “talked too much” and always felt the need to ask questions. I had this innate curiosity that always seemed to get the best of me. I’m sure this characteristic was not foreign amongst my adolescent counterparts, but somehow along the way to adulthood, many of us lost our ability to simply ask— especially to ask for what we want.
Looking back into my memories of being a child, I remember my mom often repeating the following phrase to me: she would say, “Gene, your mouth is going to be your downfall.” Of course, she was probably reprimanding me for “talking back” or saying something that, as a child, I probably shouldn’t have said. Nevertheless, those words still have some validity to them today. With my mom’s approval, I offer a slight modification to her signature phrase and I suggest: if not used, then yes, your mouth will certainly be your downfall. As I’ve grown up, I’ve seen first-hand the benefits of not being afraid to ask for what you want. Whether you’re asking for a recommendation, for career advice or even asking why something is the way it is, there is one common theme, and that is asking.
Intimidation No More
So what’s stopping you from asking a question? What stops many of us is intimidation. We probably all can recall a time in school when we had a question but didn’t want to ask it in front of our classmates; the crowd of our peers intimidated us. Intimidation doesn’t just stop when we leave school. It can continue, and if our fears are not faced, it can certainly be a hindrance to us asking and getting what we want. To combat this issue, we must first remember that being intimidated is a mental hindrance that can be overcome. It is easy to become intimidated, especially when we are asking something from a person of influence, or when we feel like we could potentially be a bother. I always remind myself when asking a question that the worst thing a person can do is say no, and if a person says no, I am not worse off than I was before I asked.
I’ve personally noticed that more often than not, people want to be a resource to you. If we are honest with ourselves, we all take some pride when someone asks us a question. It’s almost an honor that someone thinks we are knowledgeable enough in a particular area that they would take the time to consult us. Asking a question or asking for help shows your ambition for success, and people are always more willing to help when they see your drive to succeed.
The Confidence Muscle
Another thing that can stop us from asking is a lack of confidence in our strengths, abilities, and talents. Simply put, sometimes we don’t think we are good enough for whatever it is we are asking for. In order to tackle those feelings, we have to develop what I refer to as a “confidence muscle.” A confidence muscle is built through acknowledging the qualities within yourself that make you great. One way that I build my confidence muscle is through my daily affirmation. Every day on the back of bedroom door I read this affirmation, which is a statement that reaffirms my strengths. My particular statement of affirmation has a spiritual aspect to it, but your affirmation(s) doesn’t have to be spiritual. Rather, it can be linked to who you are as a person. Through consistently verbalizing and internalizing positive truths about yourself, you are able to gain another level of self-confidence. After all, it is much easier to get others to believe in you, when you believe in yourself first.
The 3W Method
After you have let go of intimidation and have built your confidence muscle, you have to prepare for whatever you are asking for. To prepare, always remember the 3W method: Why, What, and When. Prepare and assess Why it is you want what you are asking for. Your intentions behind wanting the things you want can often determine if you get them. After you have examined your motives, figure out What you bring to the table. That goes back to building your confidence. When you are confident in yourself, you are more conscious of your strengths and abilities. It’s also important to know what you will do with what you’re asking for if and When you get it. People want to feel confident that they have made the right decision if they give you what you want. Through preparing and understanding your Why, What, and When, you will be able to gain the confidence in asking for what you want.
Asking is not always easy. No matter who we are sometimes we can get nervous or become apprehensive when asking for what we want. However, eliminating those natural nerves comes down to how you think about yourself. Through overcoming intimidation, building your confidence and understanding your Why, What and When, you can ask, and get whatever you need. So I challenge you to be confident in yourself and Ask On!
About the Author
Eugene “Gene” Mance Jr. is a senior business student (graduating December 2018) at the University of North Carolina Greensboro. He is an active member of his campus and community, holding serval positions at his university. Gene has a passion for team and personal development, and aims to one- day work in corporate leadership. Outside of being involved on campus, Gene is the co-founder of NVision Inspiration for Millennials, a personal and leadership development platform. Gene is an all-around people person who loves to “bring out the best in others.”