What do you do when you want something at work or in your personal life? Do you put on the boxing gloves and steel yourself for a fight, or do you yearn quietly without really doing anything? Or, do you do the revolutionary thing and simply ask? Now imagine that the thing is what you need, and you can’t get by without it. Does the mere thought of what you might have to do to get it quicken your breath and make your heart rate spike with anxiety?
As a woman, I can attest to the fact that sometimes, the most difficult part of getting what you want can be communicating it to others. Simply asking for something can seem insurmountably difficult; it’s far worse if there’s a chance the other party will deny us. We hate the thought of that, because it could shake our confidence and lead to an unpleasant experience or even a conflict.
The strange thing about this is, most women are masters when it comes to advocating for others. We can be extremely outspoken for a cause we believe in, wonderful at talking up friends to potential love interests, and tigers when our children need something. Yet we will keep quiet, humble, and meek when it comes to ourselves. What if you deserve a raise, need to buy a car, or tell a partner you would like more support? Well, that’s where I come in- as a business and personal coach, I encounter these hesitations in plenty of women, and have broken down several steps you can use to flip from wallflower to self-advocate extraordinaire.
Focus on your desire. You must change the way you look at the process of getting what you want: it’s not a suicide mission, it’s an opportunity! You wouldn’t go into the experience of climbing Everest thinking only about hard it was going to be- instead, you’d probably focus on how reaching the summit of the mountain was going to feel. (Most likely, getting the thing you need won’t be as difficult as actually climbing Everest, so take some comfort in that!) So, how will you feel when you get that promotion? I’m going to take a wild guess and say: phenomenal. Use your energy to focus on that feeling and satisfaction you’re trying to achieve, rather than on worrying about the potential difficulties in getting there.
Set that desire in concrete. If there’s any part of what you want that seems unclear, shine the sun on it to get rid of that fog! The only way to get what you want is to be able to express it clearly. That doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be unwilling to compromise; instead, it means you’ll get rid of any ambiguity. Not only will that dramatically increase your chances of success, but it will also gain you respect. Instead of appearing wishy-washy or emotional, you’ll appear levelheaded and professional.
Look for the win-win. Take time to think about how this opportunity of yours might benefit others. For example, if you need to have a heart to heart with your spouse, it may lead you to collaborate, problem-solve, and ultimately strengthen your relationship. If you want a raise, think about the areas in which you might be able to take on more responsibility and lighten the load on your boss. To succeed at this, whether it’s with your spouse, boss, or anyone else, it pays to listen to what the other person is saying, and the clues that lie in what’s left unsaid. When you respond, rather than using words like, “I” use, “we” so that they know you have both parties’ best interests at heart. As women, we have naturally amped-up emotional intelligence skills. What may seem like Everest now might actually be the best way to use your natural gifts to create success and collaboration.
Bring your ‘A’ game. You always want to step into the situation of going for what you want by knowing you’re in tip-top shape. This means coming into the situation completely ready: doing your research, knowing your value, and preparing for situations in which you may have to don those boxing gloves and (gently) fight for what’s yours. Running through all the possible scenarios and having a game plan for each will help you instill in yourself the knowledge that there may be many routes to success, and give you a concrete vision for each. As a result, your confidence will soar, and you’ll be able to embrace the task of going after what you desire with ease and a smile.
Remember, you’re your own best advocate. Though it may be scary at the outset, the benefits you will gain by standing up and speaking out for yourself will be worth it. So take the opportunity to express what you want with clarity and confidence, and let me know what the view is like from the top of that mountain!
Kate McKay is a transformational speaker, coach, fitness guru, entrepreneur, and mother whose passion is to spread her message of living a life of abundance. She recently published Living Sexy Fit, and she is currently working on her next book, Living Sexy Rich. McKay also has a passion for inspiring others to live their best life.