Do you ever feel like some people just keep getting what they want in the workplace while you try to ask for the same things and you don’t get them? Maybe it is a particular client you wanted to work with, time off, higher pay or even extra hours in your work schedule. It just seems like the boss really favors these people while you never can get anything you ask for.
Today I just want to ask you a simple question, “How do you ask?”
Okay, hold your answer and stay with me.
Isn’t it so unfair that others get what they want and you don’t!
You see I had an interesting conversation with 2 ladies at my workplace a few days ago. One of the ladies (let’s call her Tara) mentioned that she was going to come to work for an extra day. She said it’s because there was no one to cover her department. And in this case extra workday = overtime = more money.
The second lady, (we will call her Mary) heard that and said, “It is so unfair! I know if I went to ask for an extra day of work the boss would not approve.”
Now that caught my attention because of the tone of that statement. So I probed further and asked why she believes that it would not be approved before even asking.
So she went on to rant “Tara is the one who always gets extra time. She is the boss’s favorite.”
Closed mouths don’t get fed – ask for what you want
As someone who has been accused of being favored by bosses before, even when I did not like those bosses in the first place, I could tell what was going on here.
She is upset that Tara gets what she wants while she (Mary) has no idea how to do the same.
I thought maybe I could teach Mary a little secret. Something that way too many people struggle with. Not just in the workplace, but even in their day to day life.
Me: Tara, how do you manage to get overtime when others have been asked not to take any overtime.
Tara: I just noticed there is no one scheduled to cover my area after I am gone. It is a very sensitive area so I cannot just leave it. So I approached the boss and told her that I will need to work a few extra hours to ensure coverage. At least until someone else comes to take over from me.
Me to Mary: Did you ask for extra time?
Mary: No, I just know I won’t get it. It’s Tara who always gets that. She is the boss’s favorite.
Me: Honey, closed mouths don’t get fed. If you want something, you gotta ask for it. And don’t just ask. Ask in a way that will convince the other person to give it to you. It is just a principle that works all around.
At this point, you could tell Mary had realized her first mistake (not asking) but she was still adamant that she wouldn’t get it. And if you ask me, if she asked for it with the “I know you won’t give it to me” attitude, she is definitely not going to get what she wants.
There is a technique to getting what you want
I still wanted to show Mary that it actually takes some skill to get what you want. It does not just happen. And I wanted to help her to learn that and apply it (if she so chooses) the next time she visits her boss’s office.
So I went on, “if you were to go to the boss and ask for extra time, how would you ask?”
Mary: I’d just go and say hey boss I need some overtime. If Tara is getting it, I think I should get it too”
Interesting, huh! Well if I was a boss and someone approached me this way, I know for sure the answer would be a no.
Why does the boss say no?
Let’s just dive into this conversation for a second and you will see why you have been getting no for an answer.
First of all, Mary did not show the boss any value that she will be adding to the business during those extra hours she will be at work. If I was an employer paying you more money for your time, I sure would want to know what exactly you will be doing during those hours; and it better be giving me value for my money.
When you approach someone asking for something from them, ask yourself, “what would they want in return?”. Offer it to them.
Secondly, Mary mentioning Tara when she makes her request actually makes her look less credible. It sounds like she is just feeling entitled and wants to soothe her ego. “If X can get it, I can get it too”.
No honey, nobody pays you to feel good about yourself.
Do you deliver impeccable work that you can show off about? Maybe Tara has a good track record. Do you have any, that you can talk about?
If Mary really had to mention Tara‘s name then she could say something like:
“So we have ___ amount of work but I have noticed that there are not enough people scheduled to get it done by the time of __ event. Since Tara will also be here covering her area and she is very skilled in this, I thought it would be a good idea for me to stay for a few hours and we can work together to get it done.”
This way you are showing the value in having both of you stay. VALUE. That is the key. The point is to make your request get you results.
Well, we know that one major thing Mary and Tara are really concerned about is the extra money on their checks. But there is a technique on how to get there.
The secret is in how you ask
If you haven’t caught it yet, let me tell you. The secret is in how you ask.
That’s why I am sharing this story with you.
Now think back to all the times you have asked for something and did not get it. What could you have done differently?
What about the times you asked and it was given to you. Did you deliver on your promise? If you tell someone that you are going to help them in solving a certain problem, deliver on that promise. Every single time.
When you are consistently delivering the kind of value you promise, you build trust. Your boss is going to know that you are dependable and soon you will be given more leeway than other employees would.
I am not saying that there are no bootlickers in the office who get what they want by feeding their bosses with whatever they want to hear. I am telling you, it is not the only way. And I have shown you how.
4 Stupid s
imple steps to get what you want
In summary, to get what you want from your boss here are 4 things you need to do:
- Ask with confidence – When you approach your boss with confidence, it shows them that you are certain about what you are saying. It also gives them confidence that if they give you what you are asking for, they won’t regret it because you know what you are doing.
- Know their pain point – The quickest way to get anything from anyone (not just your boss) is by knowing what they need before you approach them. When you know what their pain point is, then you can tailor your request in a way that addresses it.
- Offer to solve the problem for them – make sure that you are solving a specific problem through your request. For example, Tara was offering to cover her area and solve the problem of understaffing. The boss knows that having that area of her business without staff is going to directly impact her sales and Tara is offering a solution to that.
- Deliver on your promise – Always deliver more than you were expected. If you asked for extra time to finish a task, make sure you finish it and if possible, do more. If you impress the first time, next time you come with the same request you will have an easier time getting approval.
Let’s say you have something really important in your personal life and you need to take some time off during a busy season, and your employer has already made it clear that no one will be given time off during this time. How would you approach it?
Here is how I would do it:
“Hi boss, I know this is a really bad time to be asking for time off but I have a personal issue that really needs my attention. I would have loved to stay and finish my tasks but I am really distracted and I am not being productive at all. And I don’t want to waste company time if I am not able to deliver on my tasks. I think it is better for me to just take a few days and address my issues and then come back when my mind is freed up to concentrate on work. Meanwhile, I have asked x and y to help me out with some of the pending areas on my work so that when I come back I will not be too far behind.”
In this case, your employer does not need to be paying you when you are not being productive so you are solving that problem for them by taking Personal Time Off. Your job is to make them see the solution instead of the problem. Now, remember, when you come back, you better be able to focus on your work as you promised 🙂
I promise you this works, almost all the time.
You have confidence, you know the problem and you have the solution.
Need a little reminder?
Download this cute little cheatsheet. You can print it in any size you want and stick on your desk or hang it somewhere you can see it. I love it.
What is holding you back from getting what you want? Leave your questions and comments in the comment section below and I will respond to them.
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