Do You Order Short?

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Have you ever wanted something but, for some reason or other, you were reluctant to ask for it and then someone you knew asked for the very same thing and got it? Do you remember  just how bad that felt? Me too.

If we don’t ask for what we want, then one of two things will happen:

  1. We will either turn ourselves into victims because no one can read our minds to discover what we really want (how could they not know!); or,
  2. We can pretend that had we asked we might have gotten what it was we wanted.

Here’s the accountability piece: When we actually do ask for what we want, then we have a chance for someone to say no, at which point we can either choose to feel rejected or choose to congratulate ourselves for the courage it took to ask in the first place.

It could be something small like asking for that last piece of pie, or returning your meal in a restaurant because it didn’t meet your expectations. It could also be something large like a raise (when there are no discretionary dollars in the budget), an increase over last year’s order from your customer (even though business is soft), or a daring career move that could, ostensibly, offend a number of very influential people.

Why do we order short? Why don’t we ask for what we want?

Fear.

Fear that we’ll be rejected, we’ll look stupid, we’ll be inappropriate, or no one will like us. And, holy shish kabob, what if we get what we ask for and then we don’t know what to do with it? Then, of course, there’s always the I-don’t-deserve demon and the I’m-not-worthy witch, both of whom collude with your ego to ensure that you’ll stay an invisible victim.

Repeat after me: Yuck!

Add to that mix the fact that women tend not to promote their own interests instead focusing on the needs of others, often to their detriment. Let’s not forget those of us who have been penalized as pushy when we do ask for what we want. Remember? We’re too ambitious! That explains it!

Linda Babcock and Sara Laschever, in their book, Women Don’t Ask, (2003) cite a now well- known study of graduate MBAs from Carnegie Mellon. The starting salaries of the graduating males were 7.6 percent higher, or almost $4,000 more than the graduating females from the same program. Why would that be? It’s easy to assume that it’s gender inequity, isn’t it? That was my first thought. But, no, it’s because the women didn’t ask for more; the average woman accepted the employer’s initial salary offer and only 7 percent of the women actually negotiated their salary. The men, on the other hand, negotiated for a figure closer to their ideal; a whopping 57 percent negotiated.

Has there been time when you didn’t ask for a raise because you knew there wasn’t any money in the budget so you didn’t want to make anyone uncomfortable? Or maybe you’d decided someone else needed the raise more than you did? Or because you were feeling shy, and not really sure you deserved it?

What should you do about ordering short in your life?

Here’s some recommendations:

  1. STOP it!
  2. Identify what you really, truly want, no holding back.
  3. Ask yourself, “What’s the downside of asking for this?”
  4. Ask yourself, “What’s the greatest possible outcome of asking for this?
  5. ASK. NOW.

This was taken from chapter 31 in my book, “Impact! What Every Woman Needs to Know to Go From Invisible to Invincible.” You can get your own copy here.

When do you tend to order short? What happens. I’d love to share your wisdom. I look forward to hearing from you soon.

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