Workplace Communication Tip — Week 20

If You Want it, Ask For It

“Some people fear the vulnerability they’ll experience if they ask for what they really want, especially in the workplace,” says Ike Lasater, author of Words That Work in Business. “Self-editing often gets in the way of making a clear request.”

Self-editing refers to conversations we have in our head, when we are thinking about what we want, that run something like this: “Well, I really want him to let me know ahead of time when he is going to spring a completely new project on me so I can prepare for it. But he has always done this and he won’t change, and even if he does, I still will have to fit it in to everything else I’m already doing, so why bother asking for it?”

In other words, you think your needs are not going to get met, and you think asking might undermine your relationship, so you don’t even ask.

When you self-edit, you begin to realize that you’re operating out of some beliefs – about the other person or the situation, or perhaps even yourself. For instance, maybe your belief is “he doesn’t care what I think,” or “he’ll just hear my request as a criticism,” or “she’ll ultimately do whatever she wants anyway.”

With this awareness, take a look at these beliefs and find the need behind them. Then ask yourself if you want to test the belief by making an actual request of your coworker.

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Mindful Practice for the Week

This week, notice if you are self-editing to talk yourself out of making a clear request. Try to uncover the beliefs behind the self-editing, connecting to the need behind them.