How To Ask For What You Want

The concept of really asking for what I want,  didn’t really hit me until I was in my 40’s. It had never occurred to me before then,  that if I wanted something, all I had to do was ask for it. I’m not talking about a brand new boat, diamond ring or a Porsche, but more about the things I needed in my every day life.  I’m not sure that I really believe in the lovely idea that you can literally have anything you want, simply by asking the universe for it, but I do believe that lots of us could have more of what we want, if we just learned how to ask.


Closely connected to ideas of what we want are ideas and notions around what we are entitled to and / or what we deserve.  Even the word ‘entitlement’ may conjure images of spoilt, outrageous demands and ‘diva’ type behaviour. We may also have childhood memories of being told that continually asking for things is rude, which is a shame, as in the adult world, it is the only way we can get what we want!

Asking for what we want is step one, but what about actually getting it? How do we phrase our asking to make sure the other party is inclined to respond favourably to our requests. Think about it, do you ask for what you want or do you simply expect others to know?   People around us can only respond to our requests if they know what they are.  If we can develop better ways of asking,  it will not only mean that we are taking control of our daily lives, but will also maximise our opportunities and thus, hopefully, mean we realise more of our goals.


“I’m a big believer that life changes as much as you want it to.” – Martin Freeman

I fully appreciate that asking for what we want opens us up to rejection and makes us feel very vulnerable.  Its scary! None of us likes the thought of being rejected or experiencing someone telling us ‘no’.  But… asking is worth the risk of the refusal, because it also confirms the reality of the situation:  If the answer IS ‘no’, then we know where we stand and can move on accordingly. Skirting around the subject, dropping hints, or burying the question in humour or sarcasm, is only going to make the respondent confused and their response unreliable … and  then we cannot move forward, because we do not have an answer.

Similarly, we often don’t express our needs clearly, because we haven’t really properly thought out what we do want. It may be just a vague notion in the back of our minds and, as such, we make vague statements about it, hoping that the person opposite us is a mind reader and can work out what we are actually asking for!  Fort example, being unhappy with our current working conditions but not being specific about what needs to change.  Decide what you want, what you need to get it and then ask for it. Simple! Actually its not, but have a read of the following tips and hopefully it will help you begin to deliver your questions in ways that will effectively get you the answers you want.

Requests should always be clear and specific. Don’t be vague!

Make your request reasonable.

Ask the question as if you expect the respondent to say yes. 

Make the question time limited. 

Don’t waste precious time considering if you deserve it.

Try not to be frightened. Whatever the response, you will have a clearer view of where you stand and can then consider your next move. Fear will only immobilise you and keep you in the same place.


Make the question personally about you and your need, not about the person you are asking and their needs/requirements. 

Remind yourself constantly that those around you cannot read your mind.  You will have to spell it out!

Be brave. I know its hard, but don’t be tempted to ask half of what you want or put in helpful ‘get out’ clauses for the other person.

Ask when you are feeling confident and good about yourself. Your body language will do a lot of the talking for you.

Don’t allow yourself to feeling guilty about asking.

Check the integrity of your question by asking yourself what your response would be if someone asked you the same question.

Don’t focus on what you will do or say if the outcome is negative, this will come across in your delivery.


Ask politely, don’t issue demands.

Do not under any circumstances turn the question into an argument. If it dissolves into anger, walk away and try again later. 

Don’t exaggerate your need or overstate the reasons why you want it.  Be honest and truthful.

Consider giving something if necessary, to get something back.

Try not to complain when asking your question.

If the answer is no, ask for clear specific reasons why and ask the other party their advice in how you can work towards getting a yes to your question.

To get what you want, you have to know what you want. If you don’t know what you want, it is likely that you are going to be feeling resentful and frustrated and that is no way to live your life. You have the right to want things, even if you might not get all of them.  When you don’t ask, it may be you don’t believe you have the right to ask.  Believe you have the right and believe that either now, tomorrow or next week, you are going to get that “Yes!”❤️

“Everything you want is out there waiting for you to ask. Everything you want also wants you. But you have to take action to get it.” –Jules Renard


11 replies »

  1. Very helpful Karen, I think the majority of us have been brought up to be grateful for what we have, and if we want something to earn it for ourselves, but sometimes we need other less material things such as time for example, and usually that means other people rearranging their lives to accommodate us. You guide to asking those types of questions will be helpful for many I am sure.. sharing in this evenings blogger daily…enjoy the rest of your weekend.. Sally

  2. Thank you for your post. For me it is not as difficult to ask in the workplace because we have a good team. It is more in personal relationships/friendships. I am so used to giving to others as a teacher and in part-time ministry, asking for myself feels selfish.

  3. There are some really helpful tips in here. It is scary to ask for what you want, but we need to remember why we’re asking in the first place, why it’s important to us. I’ve had some big conversations recently where I’ve had to ask for things I want. I didn’t get a yes to them all, but I felt proud for being brave and asking in the first place. The yes will come. Thanks for sharing! x

    • Thank you so much for reading and your enlightening comment. You are absolutely right! Being brave is key. ❤️

  4. There are times that I’ve learned that I must say what i want. There are other times, it must be earned. There is never a one-size-fits-all answer about asking for what you want. With my husband, I should ask (a tough one to learn). With my co-workers, it is much different. I don’t know them well and they are supposed to do what the boss wants, not me. So to ask makes them nervous. Somewhere in there, we have to assess the situation and see what the best approach is. Sometimes it’s a combination of as, expect, and understanding that my needs are not the most important ones in a situation.

    • Thank you for your insightful comments. It sounds as if you have reflected on this and come to some very astute observations. Your right, there is no one answer, just looking at every situation individually and doing th best we can!

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