I've been working with my 4-year-old, Avi, on a critical communications skill - how to ask for what she wants in a kind and caring way.
She can problem-solve in a variety of situations.
Avi: "If you hold (her sister) Noa, I can go with Dad."
She can be persuasive. Case in point: we bought some rainy day activities to have in thehouse. Here was the conversation the next day.
Avi: "I think it's going to rain today."
Me: "Avi, it's perfectly sunny outside. It's going to be a beautiful day."
Avi: "Are you sure? Looks like rain to me."
Me: (finally catching on). "Avi, did you want to play with one of the rainy day activities we bought?"
Avi: "Can we?"
Me: "Yes. In the future, just be direct. Ask for what you want in a kind and caring way."
That's a much more challenging skill for her, and for many people.
Which is why I was so dismayed to hear how the CEO of Microsoft, Satya Nadella, answered a question at a women’s college event about how he’d advise women who are not comfortable putting themselves up for promotion or advancement opportunities.
He suggested “it’s not really about asking for a raise but knowing and having faith that the system will give you the right raises as you go along.” In other words, don’t ask for what you want but rather trust that you will get what you want without asking for it.
He later said he was just wrong.
Often the biggest barrier to getting what we want is ourselves. That we can’t get past the fear of failure, or the thought that we don’t deserve something. Others rarely care as much about our needs as we do.
Avi had several shots at the doctor’s office recently. She was anxious about it. Until she learned that her sister was getting shots, too! When I asked her about it, she told me she “felt scared and then brave.”
To ask for what you want may take courage to get past a worry, but the outcome – getting what you want – is ultimately worth it.
What do you want that you haven’t yet asked for?
- David Grossman
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