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Do You Know How To Ask for What You Want?

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Karl W. Palachuk
March 13, 2011

Not too long ago I found myself in two very different settings that resulted in similar, uncomfortable results.

In each setting the following scenario played out:

– People were given the opportunity to ask a room full of experts to help them with their businesses. Name any problem with your challenge and we’ll all brainstorm about how to help you.

– More than one person in this situation simply falls into a daze. “I’m not sure what to ask for. I wish people really understood the value of what I bring.” This was then followed by a stammering, flat sales pitch about their business that no one understands.

– Some people are very excited to have the opportunity for feedback, but are simply lost about what they want.

We all need things. In our personal lives, in our community involvement, and in our business lives. We need advice. We need help. We need each other.

But we also need to know how to ask for what we want.

The chances that you will get what you need without asking for it are pretty slim. The world is full of wonderful, helpful people. But it’s just a statistical improbability that someone is going to give you exactly what you need if you can’t even ask for it.

So where do we get stuck? I believe it is rare that we know what we want and can’t find the words to express it. That means the sticking point is a step back from asking: We are stuck because we don’t know what we want. We might know vaguely but not in a precise way that can lead to actions.

For example, you might know that your business is going in the wrong direction. But how can I help you? If your request is, “I want my business to be more successful,” there’s not much I can do to assist you.

If your request were more precise, then I might be able to help. For example:

– “I need to reduce accounts receivable”
– “I need to figure out which marketing is working”
– “I need to determine the right price for a new product”

Each of these is specific enough that someone could actually offer up assistance.

Figuring out what you really want (so you can articulate it for others) is not particularly difficult. But it does take some effort. Once again, I highly recommend sitting quietly and focusing each day on the things that are important in your life. This daily meditation or quiet time can work miracles for you.

Once you can clearly tell the world what you need, the world can begin working to help you get it. You have probably heard the theory that the world conspires to assist you as soon as you decide to do something. Well, one piece of what’s going on there is that YOU are seeing opportunities more clearly because you’ve articulated goals for yourself.

We all want things. We all need things. And we all need to learn how to ask for what we want.


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