Asking for what you want? Ah. It is much harder than it sounds. But, you must master the fine art of identifying what you want and asking for it. Especially at work where every opportunity lost can negatively affect your career path.
My friend Anne Loehr just posted an article about this, and I thank her for that. As a leadership consultant to companies and firms, she has done a lot of thinking about this. She isn’t always writing for lawyers, but the same rules apply throughout the working world.
Anne rightfully points out that the response “I don’t care” is not acceptable. You have to care. That is what advocating for yourself is all about. You cannot rely on others to know what is best for you.
In explaining this in her post, Anne enlisted the help of one of my favorite professional consultants, Jezra Kaye, who specializes in improving public speaking skills. Her website Speak Up for Success is a gem. Jezra hones it to a five-step exercise:
- Know Your Value;
- Do Your Research;
- Develop Your Strategy;
- Plan Your Speech; and
- Practice, Practice, PRACTICE.
This is all very familiar to me. Jezra and I have spent hours and hours over coffee, lunch and dinner tossing these concepts around. She is a pro. Consult her website, listen to her podcasts, and do what she says.
We all know that self advocating and being direct can be uncomfortable. But, what’s the choice? Letting your career proceed in the wrong direction to save yourself a little unrest?
Don’t expect anyone else to be looking out for you — it doesn’t work that way. YOU have to develop the sales pitch that tells them what YOU want, why YOU want it, and why they should give it to YOU.
You also have to know why things matter to you. Be prepared for the push back, and have responses ready. Be confident in your delivery, and be persistent. If your request is not granted, try again. Ask good questions to get information to improve your delivery and turn things in your favor the next time.
And, news flash. In the legal profession, you are EXPECTED to ask. You are EXPECTED to be a self advocate. You are EXPECTED to overcome your anxieties. How can your managers trust you to advocate for clients if you cannot advocate for yourself?
It is the nature of the beast. Learn to deal.