Why Are We Afraid to Ask for Things?

I really wanted to do this post after an experience I had last week.  I had to make a phone call.  Doesn’t seem like such a big deal right? Dial the number; make the call; done.  But for some reason, I was freaking out about making this phone call.  It was a “business” type call. One where I had to follow up with someone who’s job it is to do what I was asking.

It sounds ridiculous that I was nervous.  Even as I’m typing this and looking at it objectively I know I was being irrational.  Regardless, I had to psych myself up to make this phone call.  It took me a good 15-20 minutes to formulate what I would say, how I would say it, what would happen if they weren’t available, what would happen if they were, and about 50 other ludicrous scenarios I could imagine.

Sweating, I made the phone call.  And you know what?  The world didn’t end.  I survived.  I asked what I needed to ask and it was completely fine.  So why the hell was I so nervous?

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Well, there were a few reasons.

  1.  I felt intimidated by the person I had to call because they were way more experienced than me in this area of business.
  2.  I felt like I was bothering them by calling them even though it was their job to do what I was asking.
  3.  I was afraid of rejection.

I struggle with these things a lot, especially regarding any type of business affair I have to deal with.  Why should I feel this way though?  I think as a society, we’re programmed not to ruffle too many feathers.  There’s a huge issue happening with this regarding women, especially in the work place, but I find it happens with men as well.  We’re programmed not to rock the boat and ask for what we want because we’ll look needy, or people will think we’re a pain in the butt to please, or we’re the reason people have to ::shocker:: actually do what they’re supposed to do.

Now, I’m not just talking about asking for a raise here (although that totally can be applicable).  It can be as simple as emailing someone for an appointment for an audition, calling an agent, talking to an editor, contacting a publishing company for ARCs, or even asking if I can change the appointment time for an interview or audition, and the list goes on.  THESE ARE NOT SUPPOSED TO BE INTIMIDATING TASKS.  Nor, should I be penalized for doing them.

Yet, for some inane reason, I think I will be.

I have to say, over the years, I’ve gotten a lot better at this.  That phone call would have taken me an hour to do instead of 15-20 min.  Still ridiculous, but I like to think I’m getting better at it.  Let’s analyze the reasons I was scared to make that phone call and what I told myself that finally let me dial that number.

1. I felt intimidated by the person I had to call because they were way more experienced than me in this area of business.

Yes, they might be more experienced than me in this area, but it doesn’t mean I have nothing to bring to the table or that my suggestions might not have worth.  I am a talented individual in my own right and there is a reason we’re communicating.  I have something to offer as well, so I shouldn’t forget that.

2.  I felt like I was bothering them by calling them even though it was their job to do what I was asking.

I’m not bothering them if it is their job to do what I was asking them.  Plus, I didn’t do it in a nagging way. I was extremely polite and professional.  If I had been contacting them on the hour, every hour, every day, that’s a different story, but I had sent an email, hadn’t heard from them, so followed up with a phone call a week later.  That is far from nagging.  In fact, some people might think it’s too lax!

3. I was afraid of rejection.

That’s life. If it does happen then they’re not worth my time.  The world won’t end and I’ll move on and find someone who is willing to help me.

I think we, as a society, need to stop penalizing anyone who is willing to ask for what they want.  Half the time I ask myself, “Is what I’m asking so difficult or insane?” I promise you, almost every time, it is not (except for that one time I asked to win the lottery, but hey).  If someone had asked me half of the requests I’ve asked for, I wouldn’t blink an eye because they weren’t a big deal.

We need to stop being afraid of what we think will happen and start wondering what will happen if we don’t speak up.  Get out there and start being the positive, assertive person I know you can be.  It might take you more than 15-20 min. to do it, but the point is you are. As time passes, you won’t even think twice about asking anymore.  My goal is to get to that point-I hope yours is as well.

We are intelligent, talented, and valued individuals and it’s time we start acting that way.

Comments

  1. Great post! I also tend to be really afraid of asking for things so it’s nice to hear I’m not the only one.

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