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13 Ways to Feel More Comfortable Asking for What You Want

The saying goes: if you don't ask, you don't get! Here, tips on how to pep your confidence and feel empowered to ask for what you want.

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Find a good time

Pick a time that you know your request will be heard. “People tend not to listen if they are angry, stressed, or at the end of a long day,” explains Tara Chivukula, LCSW, a psychotherapist in Austin, Texas. “Part of asking involves timing. This is especially true when asking for a talk with your partner, a raise from your boss or even working out an argument with a friend.” Learn the things confident people never do.

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Practice asking

Get into the habit of asking and putting yourself out there. “It’s like building a muscle, the more you do it, the better you get at it and the easier it is for you,” says psychologist Vijayeta Sinh, PhD, owner of NYC Family Therapy in New York. “Like most things, practice helps us develop and hone our skills and develop a more neutral—and eventually positive—outlook towards things.” If you’re currently forming your approach to communicating your professional needs, here is what not to say when asking for a raise at your current job. 

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Feel confident

It starts and ends with self-love, says Tina “Kat” Courtney, a life coach in Sacramento, California. “You cannot find the voice to successfully enroll others in what you are manifesting without first knowing that you deserve it,” she explains. “If you feel shaky about your self-worth, it will shine through and others will feel less motivated to do what you ask, even if it’s small. Plus, if we come from a space lacking self-love, even asking for extra mayo on our sandwich can sound confrontational instead of compassionate, and this lack of self-love is what creates conflict.”

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Try a gentler approach

It’s all in the way you ask. Courtney suggests engaging the other person by presenting your request as a question, not a demand. For example, Instead of telling your boss you feel like you deserve a raise, ask him/her if they think you deserve a raise. “If they say no, ask what you would need to do differently to earn what you want. Don’t take a negative response as a dead end. Stay curious. Find out how the person you’re talking to defines the result you are seeking, and then set out to make that happen,” she adds. These are the mistakes women make when asking for a raise—and how to fix them.

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Give something back

When appropriate, offer something in return. “Make it an energy exchange,” continues Courtney. In the case of a relationship, if you want your partner to begin treating you differently, first ask them if there’s anything they would like to request of you. “Find a way to make an even exchange so you aren’t giving a demand, you’re creating a compromise,” she says.

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Be genuine

Thai-An Truong, a therapist in private practice in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, advises to be transparent about your emotions. “Don’t act like you’re feeling confident if you’re not,” Truong says. “People can see right through the B.S. Your emotions and vulnerability will be much more connecting.” Try these ideas on how to impress others.

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Don’t mince words

Be clear in your messaging and state your request simply. “Be direct when expressing your wants and needs instead of beating around the bush,” Truong says.

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Know that your needs matter

Be kind to yourself and express your needs and wants to achieve happiness. “We’re trying to ‘be nice’ to others, but we’re not being nice to ourselves,” says Truong. “Your needs matter; express them.” Here are some simple ways to remind yourself that you’re worthy.

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Devote time and effort to romantic relationships

While many people think of sexual communication as scary or difficult, it’s truly just an extension of good communication in general, says Laurie Mintz, PhD, professor and associate chair, department of psychology, University of Florida and author of Becoming Cliterate. “The relationship between good communication, marital satisfaction, and sexual satisfaction is undeniable,” she says. Dr. Mintz suggests setting aside some time outside of the bedroom to talk to your partner about your intimate life and have an encouraging approach. “Reassure yourself that there’s a good chance your partner will be appreciative and relieved that you’ve brought up a topic they may have been afraid to broach,” says Dr. Mintz.

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Sharpen your approach skills

Knowing how others view you is important when making requests. “Be approachable. Have a firm handshake, eye contact, being polite, engaging conversation, using proper grammar and language, and know the strengths you bring to the table increases your power when asking,” says Linda Swindling, JD, author of Ask Outrageously! The Secret to Getting What You Really Want. Here are some more secrets to being instantly charming.

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Drop the guilt

When we ask for what we want, many people feel they are being rude or selfish. “The opposite of this is true,” says Melissa Divaris Thompson, LMFT, a psychotherapist in private practice in New York City. “Asking for what you want, at the gym, in bed, in relationship, etc. allows us to come into contact with our true selves and our desires. If we are able to ask for what we want, we are happier, more at peace, and feel more in control of our lives.”

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Keep the worst outcome in perspective

To help you get over your fear of asking for what you want is to ask yourself what is the worst possible outcome and let your mind truly go all the way there, suggests Kimberly Hershenson, LMSW, a New York-based therapist. “For example, if you want to ask your boss for a raise what is the worst possible outcome? You will get yelled at, put down, fired and never find a job again? There is pretty much zero likelihood of this happening so it can be calming knowing your worst fear will not come true,” she says. Next, learn these tricks that are guaranteed to help you become more confident.

Erica Lamberg
Erica Lamberg is an experienced travel and business writer based in suburban Philadelphia. Specializing in family travel, cruise experiences, and tips for enriching and affordable vacations. Beyond travel, Erica writes about personal finance, health and parenting topics. Her writing credits include Reader’s Digest, USA Today, Parents Magazine, Oprah Magazine and U.S. News & World Report. Her favorite city is Paris and she dreams about visiting Greece and Israel. She is a graduate of the University of Maryland at College Park and is married with two children.