Scared to Ask for What You Need at Work?


As corporate employees with an eye toward the executive office, we tend to encounter moments in our career that require us to ask for what we want. Whether what you want is a raise, a promotion, or simply to leave work early on Tuesdays to pick up the kids, these conversations often feel daunting.

Without question, it is always better to ask for what you need in the workplace rather than hoping in the dark with your fingers crossed that the boss will finally "get the message."

However, in my experience and the experiences I see my clients having regularly, it can be difficult to walk into the boss' office and make a request. Especially if the request is something that has been weighing on you or something that will make a big difference in your quality of life.

We're Not Used to Asking for What We Want

We like to label these conversations as "difficult," but in truth, they're not that difficult. They're just uncomfortable - something that you don't want to do if you don't have to.

It's uncomfortable because we're not used to asking for what we want. Ultimately, we're afraid of what might happen by sharing our needs; that fear is what makes these conversations so uncomfortable.

We may believe that we're selfish in asking for what we want. We perceive ourselves as being that "self-centered person who isn't behaving like a team player." Walking into the boss' office and asking to leave early seems to contradict all the values we believe in: that a nice person shouldn't be loud, shouldn't stir the pot and shouldn't make an unusual request.

You might even feel that you don't deserve to ask for what you really want, or you haven't earned it yet.

What Happens When You Don't Communicate

In my personal experience, it's scary but at the same time it's liberating to sit down with my boss and ask her for something that I need or want. Now my want is out there in the world. It exists outside my head, and everyone knows where I stand. Since I opened up the dialogue, now I also know where my boss stands.

Even if she said 'no' to my request, now she and I have something to work on. I know how she feels about the situation, so I'm now in a position where I can have a dialogue and make a compromise to meet her halfway if needed.

When things we need at the workplace aren't communicated clearly, the want continues to build up inside. You may make an assumption that the boss doesn't understand you or they don't care. Whatever it is that you want, it will likely never happen because no one knows about it other than you.

Frustration will build. There's no way the situation will resolve unless you take action. When you're unwilling to engage in uncomfortable conversations, the end result is usually an employee eventually becoming so disengaged and frustrated at work that she will leave.

Own Who You Are

I talk to my clients a lot about owning who they are. In this situation, owning who you are means understanding that your work has value, and that you are able to do your best work when you show up truly who you are and communicate what you want in the office.

If you catch yourself feeling self-conscious about making a request or you hear yourself thinking thoughts like, "Will people think that I'm not working hard enough? Will they think I'm not a team player?" remember that those thoughts are normal. It's likely that your inner voice is making a bigger deal out of the request than is true in life.

I encourage you to embrace the uncomfortable, organize your thoughts and take the plunge to have a dialogue with your boss! Practice asking what you want.

Is there something that you have wanted to ask of your boss, but you haven't felt like you deserved it? It's time to sit down with her and let her know what's on your mind - you'll be a better worker for it, and she'll appreciate the communication. If you'd like some help creating a plan I'd love to talk to you. Click HERE to set up a time to speak with me one-on-one.

Nozomi Morgan, MBA, is a certified Executive Coach and the Founder and President of Michiki Morgan Worldwide LLC. Addition to coaching, she speaks and trains on leadership, career, professional development and cross-cultural business communication.

Visit to learn more about Nozomi . There, you can download the free Leadership Discovery Tool. Follow Nozomi on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or Google+.