3 Things I’ve Learned About Asking

What is it about asking for things that is so hard for most of us?

People aren’t mind readers.  If we don’t ask, it’s very hard for someone else to know what we want.  It is rare that someone simply shows up with what we need or want at any given time.

But yet we are reluctant to ask for those things.

Is it because we don’t want to be told “no”  or get negative feedback?

I know I don’t love it, but I’ve also learned that feedback (negative or positive—and yes, I like positive better, too) is critical to my learning process and therefore, to my success.

Many years ago I learned that I rarely get good things I don’t ask for.  I also learned that while no can be a painful word, it hasn’t killed me yet.  And I’ve learned that very often when I ask, the answer is yes.  Yes is a good word and brings good things.

But if I don’t ask, I’m not giving anyone the opportunity to say yes.  I won’t have to hear no, but I won’t get to hear yes, either.


So, here are three things I’ve learned about asking that have helped me to be a more successful “asker.”

Ask Confidently.

Believe in what you’re asking for.  Ask like you know the answer will be yes.  Sometimes it won’t be what you expect (either good or bad), but if you ask with confidence and conviction you have a much better chance of getting the answer you want.  Think about your request in advance.  Write it out and practice delivering it.  Being prepared and being thoughtful will boost your confidence and your response rate.

Always be prepared that the answer may not be exactly what you’re looking for.  This just gives you an opportunity to reflect on your question and refine it.  Perhaps you need to ask for what you need in a different way or maybe you need to ask a different person.  You can learn as much from the negative responses as you can from the positive ones—if you’re really listening.


Ask Clearly.

Know what it is you’re asking for.  If you aren’t sure what you want, how is the person you’re asking supposed to know?  Ask specifically.  Open-ended requests can be tough to respond to.  Figure out what you want and then ask for it.  Are you looking for feedback on a project or skill?  Ask for the type of feedback you need?  “How am I doing?” is pretty vague.  “How clear is this proposal?” is much more direct and specific and will help whomever you are asking to know what it is you’re looking for.

Don’t make it complicated.  Get to the point.  Be polite, be creative, but be clear.  Don’t waste someone’s time by beating around the bush.  Practice ahead of time if you need to, so you can ask directly and effectively.


Ask Sincerely.

If you don’t really want to know the answer or you’re looking for a “yes man”, don’t ask.  If you really want an answer, want help or want feedback, then ask for it.  People respond more readily to sincere requests.  If you are asking honestly and not putting on a show, you are much more likely to get a response and get feedback that will help you improve and move forward.


So, get out there today and start asking for what you need and want to be successful.  These tips will help you not only in your professional life, but also with your personal relationships.  Try it and see—and then let me know how it works for you.


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  1. Linda Yarbrough says:

    Your blog post reminded me that years ago when I got my Real Estate License, I read a great book called “The Listing Master”. The No 1 take-away that I’ve not forgotten in 30 years: the best time to ask for a listing is right after you’ve listed a house. Your confidence is way up … and it shows! It applies to all “asking” though and ties in with your point “Ask Confidently”.

  2. Janet Callaway says:

    Marie, aloha. Jack Canfield is a HUGE proponent of asking. As he says, ” Ask, ask, ask, ask, ask.”

    If you don’t “ask” you are not likely to get. For some reasons, we must think that everyone around us is a mind reader, knows exactly what we want and should give it to us.

    Though I don’t know about you, I have not found that to be the case.

    Marie, another reason I think people are reluctant to ask is because they neither know Why they are asking nor do they have in mind acceptable alternatives if the answer is “No.”

    After reading your post, Marie, no doubt more people will be more confident in asking.

    Best wishes for a terrific day. Aloha. Janet

    1. marie leslie says:

      Thanks, Janet. I have learned a lot about asking and about being clear on what I want from Jack Canfield. And I have definitely learned that no matter how much I wish it was so, people just don’t seem to be able to read my mind. Darn it.

  3. Great post Marie!
    Really great, specific tips on asking for what you want. These are all great reminders for me as sometimes I gravitate to that place of not wanting to hear the ‘no’ and so I don’t ask. You are right….a ‘no’ won’t kill me 🙂

    1. marie leslie says:

      You are so right, Peggy, but isn’t it amazing how hard it is for us to learn that “no” won’t kill us?

  4. Great blog — great points – I usually am not afraid to ask for help but love the points you made as to HOW and what to ask! Is it true most men have trouble asking? Looking forward to more of your blogs!

    1. marie leslie says:

      Thanks, Sue. That would be interesting to really know, wouldn’t it? I’m sure some do and some don’t–just like us women.