Directly asking for what you want can feel pushy, and it can be scary to assert yourself. You also want to say the right thing, to improve the chances of getting what you need.
You might want help, a seat at the table, or to be treated a certain way. Whether you’re talking to your boss, your partner, your coworker, or a friend, try asking for what you want with the starter phrases below.
If You Want Help:
“I have a problem and you’re someone I’d trust for help. Do you have a moment to talk about it?”
“I wonder if you’d be interested in this issue I’m trying to solve. Could I get your input when you have time?”
“I’m struggling with this, and you’re the first person I thought of. Since you have experience with this, would you be willing to help?”
“I really need a hero today. Would you be willing to help me with something?”
If You Want Your Ideas Heard:
“I see what you’re saying, but I wonder if this also makes sense.”
“I would like things to go this way, because…”
“I have a suggestion I’d like to propose…”
“What do you think would happen if we…”
If You Need Something At Work:
“It might help me be more productive if…”
“Things have been going well, but I think I could do better if…”
“We’re on track, but we could reach our goals more efficiently if…”
If You Need Something From Your Partner:
“I would feel happier in our relationship if…”
“I feel this way when you… but I know you don’t mean it that way. I think it would help me a lot if you… instead. Is that do-able?”
“I love when we… Can we do that more often?”
“It’d mean a whole lot to me if…”
If You Just Need Something:
“Hey, I don’t want to impose, but I need…”
“Let me know if this is too much, but I would like if…”
“I need… Is that something you can understand?”
How To Increase The Chances of Getting What You Need
In addition to just starting the conversation, using some psychological principles can also boost your chances of success:
Big ‘Ask’ Before Smaller ‘Ask’
After people have already denied a request from you, they’re more likely to help with a second, smaller request.
Have a Compelling Reason
Be ready to demonstrate the value of what you want – in other words, have a good reason why you need it. This can be data or numbers, it can be evidence from the past, or it can be an explanation of why this is important to you.
Make It Easier For Them To Agree
You can do this by laying out the steps they need to take (so they don’t have to figure out how to help), or by getting the ball rolling for them.
Its never going to be 100% easy to ask for what you want, but hopefully once you’ve got the ball rolling, it will be much easier.