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September, 2012

Do you ask for what you want? 

Many times when people have asked me how I progressed up the corporate ladder, I have simply responded with "I asked for it."  

 

And I am not joking. 

 

When I was transferred to Houston with my former employer, I had several men on my team. In fact, most of the people I had managed up to that point in my career had been men. One in particular was relentlessly coming into my office and asking for more responsibility, more work and more pay.  He took it on, proved himself, and I promoted him twice while increasing his salary during a two year period.

 

I took note of his behavior and observed and learned from him.  

 

In a matter of three years after working with him, I applied his approach to my bosses and successfully moved from Director to Group Director to Assistant V.P and ultimately up to Vice President. 

 

All because I asked for it and supported that request with strong performance, sound rationale and relevant facts.

 

Recently, I read a book called Women Don't Ask by Linda Babcock and Sara Laschever.  Throughout the book I recognized parts of myself in the research and in many other professional women's stories. 

 

The authors state that one of  the main reasons women make 73 cents relative to men's dollar today is because women avoid asking or negotiating. There is a great deal of research outlined in this book to understand the societal and psychological reasons for why this is the case, but one of the more shocking findings is that women simply don't consider asking or negotiating as a way to change or impact a circumstance.

 

In other words, women don't see how asking or negotiating can actually change anything.  They are more inclined vs. men to just accept things as they are, even if they are discontent.

 

Despite my assertive nature, this had certainly been the case for me when it came down to progressing in my career early on. Even when I was most dissatisfied, I kept plugging away because I believed that my hard work would eventually be recognized and rewarded.   

 

Today, many women still continue to wait rather than ask for the recognition and rewards they want both at work and at home.

 

What I didn't realize before reading the book was the long term negative impact on your earning and career potential when you are unable or unwilling to negotiate and ask for what you want. 

 

And by the way, the research shows that some men actually fall into this category as well.  

 

Through the learning I had with my subordinate and years of applying it across my life, both at home and at work, I now realize and understand that most everything in life is negotiable. 

 

After all, you don't get what you don't ask for.  

 

However, this is often harder done than said..  But here are some tips to guide you along the way.

 

1.  Claim your dissatisfaction.  In my experience working with women, women are more likely to talk themselves out of their "pain".  We hear it all the time "oh it's not so bad, I can hang in there."  One thing to remember is if  you convince yourself out of a problem, then it really won't be fixed....ever. So be honest with yourself and claim your dissatisfaction so that you can get to a better place. 

 

2.  Don't assume anything.   People don't react, act or think like you.  Everyone is unique and even if you think someone is like you, chances are they aren't.  As I often tell my daughter, I can't read your mind, so don't assume that I intuitively understand what you need. Use your words and ask. 

 

3.  Face the Fear.  What if you mustered up the courage to ask...what is the worst outcome?  Remind yourself that doing nothing will never resolve the situation and facing up to your fear can only lead you closer to a solution.    

 

4. Know the Facts. When we ask logically, firmly and from a non-emotional, fact-based  place, it is easier for the person in front of you to hear and understand the request. Don't let your emotions get in the way and keep to the relevant facts.  You want to make sure that the person you are asking (a boss, spouse, child, employee, colleague, etc) understands what you are asking and why.  

 

5.  Set your target high.  Always leave room for negotiation and discussion.  But also be clear on where you will compromise and how much.  Do not give in too quickly!  

 

So what about you?  Are you ready to ask for what you want in these key areas?

  • Your value and worth
  • Your ideal job
  • Your priorities
  • Your work/life balance
  • Doing the things you love
  • Improving and enhancing your relationships

 

Please join the Network of Executive Women on October 12th for its inaugural breakfast and learn from some amazing Senior Executive Women! 
 
Join The Texas Women Who Rock on October 18  for another great session that will help you to learn how to ask for what you want  Leveraging Resources: Unleash your Inner Leader!  

 

Are you interested in developing yourself as a better leader and understanding what your next step should be? Consider one-on-one business coaching to help you get clear on what's next and how to position yourself for success. Contact Laura for some customized and personalized coaching.   

 

Laura Lopez is an award-winning author of The Connected and Committed Leader.  She is also a consultant, and a Birkman Method certified business coach who has been featured on the Today Show ,Latina Voices Smart Talk, Living Smart and Fox News

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In addition, her accomplishments have been highlighted in several business periodicals including  Personal Excellence, The Long Beach Business Journal, The Houston Chronicle, Latina Magazine, and Central Valley Business Times. Her articles on management and leadership are regularly seen in Leadership Excellence. 

Laura can be contacted via her Web site at:

 


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All the best,
 
Laura Lopez
 
Laura Lopez & Company
www.Laura-Lopez.com
(713) 868-5025
cell (713) 828-8829