The past few years have seen me thriving and doing some pretty awesome stuff, as detailed in my 2012 – A Year In Review article. It goes without saying that I’m pretty fortunate, maybe even a bit lucky, especially considering the current economy. Over the past year, both my fiance and I have taken a bit of flack (mostly in good humor) about how much vacation we take, and I’m sure some wonder how we get away with it, considering we’re both highly valued full time employees at our respective jobs.
Well, there are a few things I’ve learned over the past few years (and continually have to remind myself), and these are very important things that have changed me and I believe have enabled me to live my life the way I do and to do all the stuff that I’ve done.
- It is very rare to get what you don’t ask for. This applies both in business and in real life, and is very straight forward, but very profound.
- Know your value so you know what you CAN ask for. This works very well with #1.
- When you do ask for something, tell rather than ask. If you ask affirmatively assuming the answer is yes then it will likely be yes. If someone is put in a situation where they’re not given an option, most people will just go with the option presented to them rather than oppose it.
Example: If you’ve already exhausted your time off allowance but want an extra week off from work and you ask the boss for it, you will most certainly get a quick “no” answer. However if you simply tell your boss that you’ve planned a week off, they’ll likely just grumble and go with it. They may resist, but in the end, they can either accept or put up a fight. If resistance is likely to be worse for them than just letting you take your trip, they’ll let you take your trip. This obviously works best if you know your value, as explained in #2 above.
The first important point here is that when you give someone an option to say no, they will often say no. Second, as already noted, even if you cause the askee a reasonable amount of discomfort with your request, if the alternative is worse, they’ll just go with it. Often the outcome of resisting is worse than just giving in. Obviously there is a little bit of psychological manipulation here, but weigh the options, would you rather get what you want or not? Also be aware of this strategy being employed against you!
- Most people’s limits are self imposed. Think about things you would like to do or wish you could do, and think seriously for a moment about what is preventing you from doing them. Is it your employer, your spouse, your friends or some other imposing force? Or is it you, making assumptions about what is acceptable and what is not, before you even try? Often times all it takes is deciding what you want and taking action, when you do this you will realize that there is no limiting force stopping you, and that most of the rules you think are stopping you really are not.
I am not immune to this. We all have self imposed rules or limits, but to know that all it takes is some action is very powerful.
I am a very modest person and always try my best not to offend people, rock the boat, or ask for special privileges. But over time I have seen people get benefits that I was not getting, and realized that it was simply because they were asking and I was not. I’ve always been pretty fortunate, but since employing these simple strategies over the past few years I’ve seen my pay increase considerably, have taken more vacations than would typically be allowed, and overall feel that I am more control of my life than I used to be.
None of this comes from a place of arrogance, and I should stress that it is important to note that having a solid grasp on your value and requesting things within reason is very different from making irrational demands and assuming that you are indispensable. But overall, often all it takes to do something is simply taking action.
I’ll end with what I think is a very appropriate Ayn Rand quote:
The question isn’t who is going to let me; it’s who is going to stop me.
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Originally posted on Wednesday, January 16th, 2013 at 7:49 AM .