Baker Schena Communications

Unleashing Your Potential through the Power of Words

Asking For What You Want

Don’t make assumptions. Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want. Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness and drama. With just this one agreement, you can completely transform your life. – Miguel Angel Ruiz

I know this may be hard to believe, but people can’t read minds … yet (thank goodness). However, the assumption that your colleagues AND loved ones CAN read your mind leads to communication missteps …  keeping you stuck in a job that is not paying you what you deserve or a relationship that is not meeting your expectations.

Years in the classroom and the professional environment have shown me that women are often hesitant to ask for what they need in both the professional setting and in their personal relationships. This hunch is backed up with research, which shows that men are four times more likely than women to ask for a salary raise (

I’m sure the reasons for this are many, including the fear of rejection or losing one’s job, a lack of negotiation skills, cultural norms that frown on “aggressive women” or simply the assumption that the boss will eventually notice your hard work and give you a raise.

The truth of the matter is that you must ask for what you want, whether you are negotiating a salary for a new job or seeking a promotion or raise for your current job.

While this may be quite intimidating, NOT being rewarded for your effort can eat you up alive, making you feel unappreciated and negatively impacting your productivity.

The key to success in asking for a promotion and raise is to be strategic. It takes careful planning, documentation and timing – and the results are well worth the effort.

Here are some suggestions to help in your quest:

1.     From the moment you start a new job, document all of your successes. A boss doesn’t want to hear about how many hours you worked, or the “sacrifices” you’ve made. Instead, he or she will want documented proof of your accomplishments.

2.     When you are ready to ask for a promotion or a raise, make an actual appointment with your boss. You want to sit down and have his or her undivided attention.

3.     When you do meet, clearly state the reason for the meeting with words such as “I would like to take this time to discuss a promotion and raise. I have been working here for __ of time and here is a list of my accomplishments.” You may also want to have a figure in mind of how much money you want and the new title you seek prior to the meeting.

4.     Don’t hem or haw: be direct and composed and confident but not cocky. Don’t whine or discuss negatives. Stay positive, focused and supply the proof that you deserve a raise.

5.     Whatever happens after this depends on a whole host of factors. You may choose to stay even if you don’t receive the raise, wait for more time to pass before asking again, or start looking for another job. However, the most important thing is that you ASKED FOR WHAT YOU NEED.

And a quick word about relationships. Your partner is not a psychic. Often, you must ask for what you need, even if it doesn’t sound or feel romantic. If you want flowers once in a while, ask. If you want more nights out with your friends, ask. If you need more alone time, ask. If you want more romance, ask and DESCRIBE what that looks like.

When we ask for what we want, we can become unstuck and transform our lives. Forget hoping others can read your mind – communication is key.

Dr. Lori Baker-Schena is the founder and chief executive officer of Baker Schena Communications, a firm dedicated to “Unleashing Your Potential Through the Power of Words.” We offer motivational speaking, leadership consulting and medical writing services. Find us at