Many people are too underinformed, too unmotivated, or too afraid to ask for what they want. Others don’t really know what they want. And truthfully, if everyone knew and asked for what they wanted, there might not be enough to go around. But there are a lot of things out there just waiting to be claimed by those who are bold enough to speak up.
There are three keys to getting what you want:
- Do the research and preparation before asking for what you want.
- Make sure to not shortchange yourself–ask for what you really want and aim high.
- Don’t back down, even when being accommodated and getting more than you thought you could.
Let me give you some examples of how these three principles can work together to get you exactly what you want, if not more.
Recently, I had an annual review at work. First, I had to ask for the review — don’t expect your boss to offer one. Next, I made a list of what I wanted to get out of the review, including a salary increase and a company contribution to a retirement plan. Then I researched what other people with my job description make, being sure to use a reputable source; I made a detailed list of the things I had done to deserve a raise, and I listened to an audio book on negotiation. Finally, in the meeting, I made my case. I was offered a higher raise than I expected, but I was not offered a retirement contribution. I held my ground and made my original argument for the retirement contribution. I ended up getting both! The increase in income not only dramatically improved my financial situation, it also improved my attitude about my job.
Earning more money didn’t happen all at once. Sometimes you will find yourself in a situation where you must temporarily accept less than you want or deserve to create a future opportunity. The key is to remember your goals and not get stuck in the lesser position.
Asking for what you want isn’t just important in your professional life. When I was looking for an apartment, I applied the same principles. I originally had to deal with something that wasn’t what I wanted: a small, expensive apartment with lots of noise and little privacy. I wanted a bigger, cheaper apartment with lots of peace-and-quiet and lots of privacy. I also wanted to be on the second floor, to be able to paint the walls, have a parking space, and about twenty other things. I spent three weeks looking and viewed at least twenty apartments. I considered taking places that weren’t what I wanted, because I was afraid that what I wanted didn’t exist — I had set my standards really high. But I didn’t settle, and I did find my perfect apartment. However, I didn’t stop there. Once I found my perfect apartment, I was able to negotiate my move-in date and get two weeks’ free rent.
Sometimes you don’t even have to do any negotiation to get what you want. Sometimes it really is as simple as just asking. Here are a few examples.
If you forget to pay your credit card and they slap you with a late fee and finance charges, a simple phone call can sometimes get the charges dropped, even if your excuse is lame and barely thought out.
At Starbucks, if your drink is made poorly or incorrectly, ask to have it re-made — it barely costs them anything, but it makes a big difference to you.
If you have a terrible experience at a restaurant, fill out a comment card or write them a letter and you may get a gift certificate inviting you to come back.
Many banks and credit card companies will give you $100 just for opening an account and following a few simple guidelines, after which you can close the account if you want — no strings attached. There are also credit cards that will give you a significant amount of cash back each year — but you have to take the initiative to sign up for the cards and then use them appropriately.
So the next time you want something, remember:
- Research the available options and clearly define what you want.
- Ask for what you want and aim high.
- Remind yourself that you deserve it and don’t settle.
Finally, if you have any questions about how to get what you want — just ask.
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