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Tips for getting what you wish for this year

It’s getting to that time of year… so have you started your wishlist yet? I was in Adelaide recently meeting with our new members there and took the opportunity to visit my cousin Jodie and her family.  Her daughter Aimee is 13 (going on 30!) and is quite the helper around the house… So much so that Aimee has given her mum and dad a hand with Christmas this year by writing “Aimee’s Top 10 Gift Ideas” which was neatly posted on the fridge at the time of my visit.  I’m not sure what impact it had on her mum and dad but it certainly got my attention!

And it’s not a bad strategy – ask politely for what you want and you just might get it.  Or not.

When it comes to getting what they wish for, many working women tell me they’re sick and tired for waiting for promises to be kept and wishes to come true. Indeed it’s one of the Big 3 issues my mentees consistently raise.  Women tell me they ask at work for more flexibility, more pay or more resources to get the job done but it falls on deaf ears. They tell me how unfair it is that everyone other than them seems to get what they want.  Or they lament that on the home front they don’t get the support from their spouse or family or friends that they need.

What I’ve noticed is that it’s often not what the women are asking for that lets them down, but the way that they ask.  As much as I admire Aimee’s initiative, I don’t think that writing lists (read: performance goals and objectives) and asking politely will get you far in business.  Especially if your workplace has the average 90% or more of executive roles held by men because they usually don’t operate this way.

In work and in life, it’s the squeaky wheel that gets oiled
so you’ll need to do more than articulate your wishlist (performance goals & objectives) to get what you want: you’ll need to be a lot more persuasive than that if you want your wishlist to come true this year.

So here’s my top tips on what I’d be doing to make my wishes come true:

1. Get clear about what you want and then communicate clearly.  One of the most common criticisms men have of women is that they don’t understand what we want.  I get what they’re saying!  You have to get clear about what’s important to you, what you need and what you want.  Then you must communicate this to others, clearly and concisely and in terms that will make sense to your audience.  Avoid ambiguous statements, over-complicating your requests and adding superfluous padding – just keep it to the point, using as little conversation as possible to get your message across.

2. Ask calmly and casually for what it is you want.  Don’t bother scheduling formal meetings and preparing lengthy proposals for your boss to approve – just ask, ask and ask again at any opportunity you get for what it is you want.

NB: I’m not suggesting here that you don’t do your homework; just don’t spend hours on fancy presos and papers when the back of the envelope will do; and don’t book formal meetings with your boss (that will probably be rescheduled 3 times before you actually get to meet) when a quick chat at the water cooler or in the elevator will work just as well.

3. Be persistent.  Don’t expect to get what you want the first time you ask – in fact if you do, consider yourself lucky!  My advice is to expect at least 2 knock-backs before you get a yes (though my friend Candy Tymson told us in her Negotiation tips at the last Ascend development day that it takes on average 4 cracks before you’ll get the nod).  If you want to learn from the experts simply watch how kids do this with their parents – they know the more they ask the more likely they’ll get… and they’re not afraid to keep going.  It works!

4. Give others permission to give.  So often we say we want our team at work or partner at home to do more… but we just don’t give them the chance!  We take on extra work because “It’s quicker to do it myself than to show them how to do it”.  And we take on more at home because we’re expected to… or we do it better… or if we don’t do it then nobody else will.  Now I agree there’s times this is true – like the ironing in our house which would never get done but for our Iron Lady Lorraine! But generally things will still get done if it’s not you doing them.  Even the important things.

I know this isn’t always easy and it takes some training and conditioning to let go.  But let go you must.  When my son had a sad day recently and the daycare rang me (even though my husband Ric by far does more drop offs and pick ups than me) it was tempting to get in the car and rush to the rescue.  But I resisted that temptation because Ric is every bit the parent that I am to our son, when I let him be…

5. Finally… every now and then it’s timely to remember to be careful what you wish for.  Only you will know what’s right for you, what your priorities are and what will make a difference to your overall happiness and wellbeing.  So be true to yourself, believe in yourself and take on only what you truly want to live up to.

Have a view on this?  Post your comments on The SheEO Blog and we’ll draw 3 responses to win a copy of Ideas Volume 3: original perspectives on life and business from leading thinkers.

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