Do you ask for what you deserve?
When’s the last time you asked for what you deserve?
As in actually used your mouth and uttered to another human something that you wanted.
Now when’s the last time you’ve done that in business?
For some of us, that simple transition from life to work trips us up and makes us refrain from asking for things. Whether we’re in an office, emailing a client, or on the board, posing questions can make us feel spotlighted, insecure, or inadequate.
But why is it so hard for us to ask for things we deserve in business?
Part of it can stem from women (or anyone, really) not wanting to be seen as weak, especially in business, and especially when it’s their own business. When you have a boss, you want to be certain you have your facts straight. If you are your own boss, you want to come to clients with answers, and know why those are right. We’re so preoccupied with getting everything perfect, that we don’t try or ask until we’re 100% certain that we’re qualified.
Another reason? Women value relationships and don’t want to rock the boat. Whether it’s intentional (aka realizing they can help you in the future), or not, women see that the face to face interactions and personal connections can make or break success in a project. Who here has wanted to ask something, and then thought better just to avoid it being awkward?
It’s in these moments that we HAVE to ask. We have to get better at realizing that the people we care about care for us too, and self care and demanding our worth isn’t putting anyone else down.
So how do we do that? When you truly deserve something, the action to get it is simply stated but hard to execute: you have to ask for it.
Being Your Own Advocate
Let’s get the elephant out of the way first. Women in business, for the moment at least, means a wage gap. So many women have stories about opportunities where they didn’t feel they could ask for more money, or didn’t know how.
But while #timesup is all over hollywood and glamorous high profile jobs, what does this mean for an entrepreneur? How do you ask for what you deserve when you’re fighting to keep things going everyday? Where is the line between asking more from your clients and keeping them?
Let’s be real here: it’s really, really hard. When you’re working for yourself, your biggest advocate for your work is, well, you.
During my last job working at a nonprofit, I was moving from a role to the next step up. My boss was going through the formalities: responsibilities, title, pay. But the pay was presented as a obvious number, and I thought that was strange.
In previous times, I would have just ignored it. I am definitely the type of person who is shy and doesn’t typically want to rock the boat. At this point in my career, I had been there long enough to know the lay of the land, but I still surprised myself when I asked: “Is that a negotiable number?”
How was I able to ask that question? First, I was comfortable with my boss. Second, I had done my research on what others in my field and my level were making. But if I’m being honest, what really helped was faking my confidence in myself.
Anya Overmann, a content creator and marketer, agrees. “When it comes to asking for what you deserve, you have to consider that you're the only person who can truly advocate for it. So you have to believe in your worth enough -- or at least pretend really well -- to get you what you believe you deserve.”
Of course, advocating for yourself is just another task to add to your growing business plate, but is a vital one. “Remember-- you're trying to convince someone else of your worth. They're going to be far more willing to believe you if you appear to believe in yourself.”
For me, that one question, that little win, led to a whole slew of new things (besides a bigger paycheck!) Not only did I win more of my boss’ respect, but I actually now am confident in asking for other things too, all because I advocated for myself.
Is it easier? No, but now I know that I have the capability to ask for it. And all of it started by faking it.
When I posed this question to Joanne Worthing Mosellen, a business coach for online entrepreneurs, or those of us who have clients, she straight up calls us out. “There is always that price that you really want. If you listen to your heart, there is a number. Yet very quickly fear can jump in and suddenly a lower number is presented.”
Asking for something in business settings can be tough for a lot of reasons: you don’t want to be pushy; you’re being respectful of other people’s time; you don’t want to seem weak.
But in the end, you’re only hurting yourself, your future self, and the community around you when you don’t go with what you believe. Trusting yourself to make clear goals, to ask for what you want, and in getting things done right is difficult, but key in business. And you know this, because you trust yourself in running your business every day.
So let’s be radical. Trust yourself and go with your gut, particularly when others are looking.
By not asking for what you deserve, you’re limiting your potential, and we know you have a ton of it. There is no need to feel guilty about it: you deserve the same amount of respect that you give others.
Practice a Life of Choosing You
Building up these skills takes time, but the more you practice, the better (and easier!) it gets.
A starting tip? You want the person you are communicating with to actually be listening. If they’ve had a bad day, are distracted by their phone, or are discussing something else entirely, see if you can wait and establish a time to talk about what you need. Picking the right time is really essential, and while you can’t always do that, understanding the framing of the conversation will really help you get a foot forward.
Because if part of the reason why we don’t ask for what we deserve is that we value our relationships, then let’s make sure that those that we value in our lives realize that it's not about them when we advocate for ourselves. And just know that if they care about you in the same way, they’ll value your openness.
So we challenge you to ask for what you deserve this week. It can be something small, like a coffee with a friend who’s been skipping out on catch ups, or it can be big, like asking your oldest client to meet your current retainer. What matters is having you realize that you deserve it, and getting you to let others know that too.