Do you always ask for what you want and don’t seem to get it? Not to worry because now you can get what you want. I have interviewed therapist Kathe Skinner who will share what common mistakes people make when asking someone for what they want and how you can ask for what you want and get it.
Tell me a little about yourself.
“I’ve been a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in Colorado for over 15 years. Earning my graduate degree in Psychology came in my late 40s, following careers in teaching and advertising. Being a therapist gives me the opportunity to combine the best of all three: having a creative, sometimes goofy, way of looking at the world; using an interactive style aimed at client-centered involvement, and; combining empathy and understanding with knowledge and experience. I specialize in communication issues for couples, especially with couples experiencing disability or chronic illness, especially invisible disability/illness. Having multiple sclerosis and being married tunes me in to both. I’ve conducted workshops on the national and local settings in addition to private practice.”
What are common mistakes people make when asking someone for what they want?
“By far the most common mistake made in asking for something is not asking at all. Reasons may include feeling unworthy, assumptions and expectations (for example, mind reading), or being unclear. A look at our behaviors often shows how we’re thinking. For example, feeling unworthy may show as meek and needy. We might ask but put it in such a way that our asking is dismissed. Was the expectation of failure built into how you asked for something? Maybe a “self-fulfilling prophecy” was at work. Mind readers expect their world is full of other mind readers. When you don’t say what you want, the chances of getting what you want are pretty slim. If you’re asking within an intimate relationship, two people may very well be speaking “different languages”; check out what you understand before acting. Perhaps you’ve heard this, or maybe used it yourself: “If you loved me you’d know.” We all expect understanding, thinking, “I know, how come you don’t?”
It doesn’t take a gypsy to predict what will result. We haven’t gotten what we want because we haven’t really asked. At the far end of the asking-for-what-you-want-spectrum is the bully. Armed with a verbal and physical attitude, the bully carries an arsenal of reasons and pulls along a file cabinet full of examples. Playing with a sense of entitlement or failure to look past immediate gratification is only a waiting game, as this kind of immaturity isn’t successful for long. Finally, check your timing when asking for what you want. Sometimes we’re so anxious and excited that we ignore the signs that tell us ‘not now’.”
What are some tips you can give readers to help them ask for what they want and get it?
“First, be honest and upfront with yourself before you go asking someone for something. What do you really want? Add the reason you’re asking to your mental conversation. It’s okay to be “selfish”; there’s no rule against wanting something for the joy it brings to you alone. However be careful because you can get in trouble if you try to pass off your desire as being for someone else. Timing is everything; how’s yours? Asking for a vacation to Vegas when your spouse has just had a big blow-out at work is as ill-timed as asking for a raise when the boss has just come out of an all-day meeting. Here’s more self-talk: Are you asking the right person or are you asking the person easiest to ask? What’s led to your decision to ask? Are you being reasonable? Manipulative? How are you asking? When you do ask, honor that person’s time by making sure your conversation comes at a good time for them (how will you know? Ask!). Be honest about what you want, why you want what you want, who you want it for, when you want something to happen. Be clear and direct; make sure you were heard correctly (say “I want to make sure I explained myself well”, or words to that effect). Be brief and to the point. Practice beforehand so that you’re clear and concise. That’ll significantly increase your chances of getting what you want. Depending on who’s being asked, writing down brief points may also be helpful.”
What can someone do if the person they are asking says “no” in the end?
“Be gracious even if you don’t feel it. A blaming, threatening attitude, or pouting, can lead to an opinion being formed about you, increasing the probability of “no” in the future. If you’re angry, hurt, disappointed (and you probably are) go cool down somewhere, and don’t stomp off or flounce out of the room to do it. It’s guaranteed you won’t change anyone’s mind if you’re not in control of your emotions and behavior. When you return, go through the process of asking to talk to the other person. Ask for an explanation. Just as it’s important to be understood, it’s important for you to understand. Putting yourself in someone else’s shoes is tough so give yourself a break about this, especially when you’re hurt or angry. If misunderstanding is the cause, an immediate explanation might lead to a different decision. If you do approach the topic again, don’t badger. Your request is often judged by how you present it. Finally, sometimes it is best to accept that ‘no’ means ‘no’.”
What last advice do you have for someone who wants to ask for what they want and to meet their goal in getting what they want?
“If your goal is to build relationships that act in your behalf, act in behalf of those relationships yourself. This is true in business, family or intimate relationships. The only person who is under your control is you. Being honest as you think and act builds, extends, and expands each of your life’s relationships, putting you in line to get what you want.”
Thank you Kathe for doing the interview on how someone can ask for what they want and get it. For more information on Kathe Skinner or her work you can check out her website on www.beingheardnow.com.
How to Get What You Want in Any Relationship
How to Improve Communication with Others
Getting the Love You Want