How to ask for what you want

If you use this formula when you ask for something, you are more likely to get what you are asking for, keep or even improve your relationship with the person you’re asking, and keep your self-respect. DEAR MAN is an acronym so each letter stands for something else.

Start out with DEAR .

Start out by giving the background rather than jumping right into asking. Talk about why you want and deserve what you are asking for. Think through all the facts that you can present to support your case. What questions do you think they will want to ask you before they say yes? Think about this ahead of time and answer the questions before they ask them. Stick to the facts and stay away from judgmental or blame statements.

“I haven’t had my cell phone for a month now. You took it away after the night I came home too late. I’ve been home and in bed by 10:00 every night since then. I’ve got good grades in all my classes now. I’m being responsible and am even applying for part-time jobs.”

Explain how you feel and what you believe about the situation.

“I feel I have earned the privilege to have my phone back”

Ask directly for what you want.

“Will you give me back my phone now?”

Tell the person what’s in it for them to give it to you.

“If I had a phone I could call you and keep you posted about where I am and what I’m up to. You could reach me at all times. I’m applying for part-time jobs so that I can help you pay for the phone bill.”

After asking this much, stop and listen to their response. If they say yes, you’re done! If no, or if they get off subject, or start blaming you for something… use the next part: MAN

Stay focused on your goal. Keep asking and expressing your opinion over and over. If they threaten or blame you or try to pull you onto another subject ignore that and come back to your question.

They say “You were out late and irresponsible”

You say “that’s right and now I’m being responsible so can I have my phone?”

Make eye contact, stand up straight, use a confident voice.

Negotiate for other options. Give to get.

“If I can’t have it tonight can I have it tomorrow?”

“ Can I use it for an hour and build up to all day…? “

If they keep saying no ask them “if you were in my shoes, what would you do?” In other words “What would it take for you to say yes?” They will tell you.

After trying all of these things, if the answer is still no, then accept the no.

if the person is important to you, (and you should really think about this because sometimes even though you don’t like someone or think that they are not important in your life, like your principal, the police, the judge, your boss, your parents, the relationship with the person is important because they have a lot of say about your life) follow the next step, which is called …

Be courteous rather than attacking or judgmental. Stay away from manipulative statements such as “I’ll kill myself if you don’t, or I’ll do x to you if you don’t”

Act interested in the other person’s point of view. Look at them in the eye. Don’t interrupt or talk over them. Listen to what they are saying. You don’t have to agree or disagree, just hear them; it really helps you get what you are asking for!

This goes along with acting interested. Let the other person know that you heard them. This is one of the most valuable relationship skills there is. Tell your mother “I hear you saying that you don’t trust me to actually pay for the phone “ or whatever she says to you. Then after that is when you can say your response. When the person feels like you are hearing them they are more likely to give you what you are asking for.

Be fair to yourself and the other person.

If an apology is warranted use one, otherwise don’t. Don’t apologize for saying no or for asking. Let’s say you lent some money to a friend and are asking for it back. Don’t say “You owe me money, I’m sorry for asking for it.” No. You deserve it. That was the agreement. You have the right to ask for it and receive it back.

Do what you know is right. If someone asks you to do something that feels wrong to you say no. If your friend asks you to steal and that is against your values, say no. If you are a vegetarian and are offered a meat meal, say no. It’s your right.

DEAR MAN is a Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) skill, created by Marsha Linehan. (Skills Training Manual…Guilford Press 1993)

For more information about using music therapy with DBT click here.

How to ask for what you want

Does fear of rejection prevent you from getting what you want? How do you ask for what you want in an unobtrusive yet bold and assertive way?

Sometimes, all it takes to get what you want is asking for it. But it’s easy to hold yourself back—maybe you’re afraid of rejection, so you decide it’s better not to ask than to face a “no.”

Here are some tips on how to ask for what you want to increase your chances of actually getting it.

How to Ask for What You Want

Learning how to ask for what you need and want, even when you’re afraid of the answer, can help you reach your goals.

Follow these steps to ask for what you want:

1. Use clear, precise language. If you ask for something vague, you may get a vague answer or something that isn’t what you want. Learn how to phrase three common requests for change:

  • Behavior. If you need someone to do something, tell them specifically what it is. For example, saying, “Would you do the dishes more often?” is less specific than, “I want you to wash the dishes each time I cook a meal, and I’ll wash them when you cook a meal.”
  • Time. If you need to have something done at a certain time, but you don’t say so directly, it probably won’t be done at that time. Instead, include a specific time frame in your request, which allows the person you’re asking to make a concrete commitment. For example, let’s say you want to have a phone call with your son. Sending a text that says, “I’d love to talk to you soon,” is not as specific as, “I’d like to talk with you this weekend. Would you be available at 3:30 pm on Saturday?”
  • Money. If you’re asking for money, name the amount that you want. For example, saying, “I want a raise” is not as specific as saying, “I’d like a 5 percent raise every six months.”

2. Assume it’s possible. When you make your request, ask with confidence, imagining that they’ll say yes rather than assuming they’ll say no, whether it’s getting a refund when you don’t have a receipt or upgrading to a suite.

3. Ask for the right person. Make sure that the person you’re asking is the person equipped to handle your request. If not, say something like, “I’d like to speak with the person who directs…?” If you’re not sure who the right person to talk to is, ask, “Who is the person who’s involved with…?”

4. Don’t accept rejection. People may not answer yes for a variety of reasons, but if you ask them again another time, they might say yes because:

  • You’ve had time to prove your dedication to them or the work.
  • They’re in a better mood.
  • The economy improved.
  • You offer more convincing data or evidence.

One study found that 60 percent of sales are made after the fourth call, but that 94 percent of salespeople give up after the third call. So continue to ask, even if it means asking more times than you’re comfortable with.

Activity: List Your Asks

To encourage yourself to ask for what you need, work through the different areas of your life. Here are the steps:

1. Make a list of things you need to ask for at home, work, and school. Write down how you would benefit from getting each thing you want to ask for. Then, rephrase each item to say, “I want (BLANK) but I don’t ask because I’m afraid of (BLANK).”

2. Write your asks for each of the seven categories from Principle 3: Identify What You Want: relationships, leisure, health, finances, community, career, and personal growth. Examples might include hugs, a higher hourly rate, or an endorsement of your work.

A Rejection That Turned Into “Yes”: Susan Mabet’s Story

Susan Mabet grew up in a poor Maasai village in Kenya. She hoped to attend a girl’s boarding school so that she could pursue an education and career beyond being a homemaker like other girls in her village. Where she lived, girls were married young, became pregnant, and often didn’t survive childbirth. In primary school, Mabet studied hard and earned top grades ahead of applying to the only prestigious boarding school in the region, but she didn’t get in—the school accepted 40 girls that year, and she wasn’t one of them. She decided to go talk to the school to make sure there hadn’t been a mistake.

Mabet arrived on the first day of classes and asked the principal about the decision as other girls arriving for class looked on. The principal explained that the school only had funding to accept 40 girls and Mabet was 41st on the list. Mabet started to cry and the other girls came to her aid, saying they would share desks and do what it took to allow Mabet to study there. The school agreed and a generous donor later agreed to cover her tuition.

Cleaning Up the Mississippi River: Chad Pregracke’s Story

Chad Pregracke wanted to help clean up the polluted Mississippi River. But because there was more trash than his 20-foot boat could handle, Pregracke decided to ask for money to buy equipment like barges and trucks. He went through the phonebook, asking big companies if they’d donate money. His strong desire to make a difference and his willingness to ask resulted in a variety of companies giving him thousands of dollars to buy the equipment and allowed him to lead tens of thousands of volunteers in cleaning up the Mississippi River and 22 other rivers.

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darya

Darya’s love for reading started with fantasy novels (The LOTR trilogy is still her all-time-favorite). Growing up, however, she found herself transitioning to non-fiction, psychological, and self-help books. She has a degree in Psychology and a deep passion for the subject. She likes reading research-informed books that distill the workings of the human brain/mind/consciousness and thinking of ways to apply the insights to her own life. Some of her favorites include Thinking, Fast and Slow, How We Decide, and The Wisdom of the Enneagram.

Asking for What You Want Firmly and Fairly

Debra’s patience is beginning to wear thin with her colleague Ronan. A few days earlier he had undermined her yet again, this time in front of other colleagues during the weekly team meeting. So, she decided to tell him how he made her feel. But just as she was about to approach him, she lost her nerve.

Ronan made similar comments again yesterday. And, once again, Debra felt humiliated and frustrated at his inability to see the effect that his comments had. But she still couldn’t bring herself to speak to him about it. She feels cross with herself, but resigned to the situation.

It’s possible that you’ve been in a situation like Debra’s and, like her, you might have felt unable to do anything about it. But by learning how to be more assertive, you can stand up for yourself, and become a strong and confident communicator.

In this article, we look at why assertiveness is important in the workplace, and explore some strategies that you can use to become more assertive.

Click here to view a transcript of this video.

What Is Assertiveness?

It’s not always easy to identify truly assertive behavior. This is because there’s a fine line between assertiveness and aggression, and people can often confuse the two. For this reason, it’s useful to define the two behaviors so that we can clearly separate them:

  • Assertiveness is based on balance. It requires being forthright about your wants and needs, while still considering the rights, needs and wants of others. When you’re assertive, you are self assured and draw power from this to get your point across firmly, fairly and with empathy.
  • Aggressive behavior is based on winning. You do what is in your own best interest without regard for the rights, needs, feelings, or desires of other people. When you’re aggressive, the power you use is selfish. You may come across as pushy or even bullying. You take what you want, often without asking.

So, a boss who places a pile of work on your desk the afternoon before you go on vacation, and demands that it gets done straight away, is being aggressive. The work needs to be done but, by dumping it on you at an inappropriate time, he or she disregards your needs and feelings.

When you, on the other hand, inform your boss that the work will be done but only after you return from vacation, you hit the sweet spot between passivity (not being assertive enough) and aggression (being hostile, angry or rude). You assert your own rights while recognizing your boss’s need to get the job done.

The Benefits of Being Assertive

One of the main benefits of being assertive is that it can help you to become more self-confident, as you gain a better understanding of who you are and the value that you offer.

Assertiveness provides several other benefits that can help you both in your workplace and in other areas of your life. In general, assertive people:

  • Make great managers. They get things done by treating people with fairness and respect, and are treated by others the same way in return. This means that they are often well-liked and seen as leaders that people want to work with.
  • Negotiate successful “win-win” solutions. They are able to recognize the value of their opponent’s position and can quickly find common ground with him.
  • Are better doers and problem solvers. They feel empowered to do whatever it takes to find the best solution to the problems that they encounter.
  • Are less anxious and stressed. They are self-assured and don’t feel threatened or victimized when things don’t go as planned or as expected.

The Risks of Being Assertive

Some organizational and national cultures prefer people to be passive, and may view assertive behavior as rude or even offensive. Research has also suggested that gender can have a bearing on how assertive behavior is perceived, with men more likely to be rewarded for being assertive than women.

So, it pays to consider the context in which you work before you start changing your behavior.

However, this doesn’t mean that you should simply succumb to the status quo! Rather, be bold while avoiding naivity. Experiment with small steps at first, until you find what works for you in your workplace.

How to Become More Assertive

It’s not always easy to become more assertive, but it is possible. So, if your disposition or workplace tends to be more passive or aggressive than assertive, then it’s a good idea to work on the following areas to help you to get the balance right:

1. Value Yourself and Your Rights

To be more assertive, you need to gain a good understanding of yourself , as well as a strong belief in your inherent value and your value to your organization and team.

This self-belief is the basis of self-confidence and assertive behavior. It will help you to recognize that you deserve to be treated with dignity and respect, give you the confidence to stick up for your rights and protect your boundaries , and to remain true to yourself, your wants and your needs.

While self-confidence is an important aspect of assertiveness, it’s crucial that you make sure that it doesn’t develop into a sense of self-importance. Your rights, thoughts, feelings, needs, and desires are just as important as everyone else’s, but not more important than anyone else’s.

2. Voice Your Needs and Wants Confidently

If you’re going to perform to your full potential then you need to make sure that your priorities – your needs and wants – are met.

Don’t wait for someone else to recognize what you need. You might wait forever! Take the initiative and start to identify the things that you want now. Then, set goals so that you can achieve them.

Once you’ve done this, you can tell your boss or your colleague exactly what it is that you need from them to help you to achieve these goals in a clear and confident way. And don’t forget to stick to your guns. Even if what you want isn’t possible right now, ask (politely) whether you can revisit your request in six months time.

Find ways to make requests that avoid sacrificing others’ needs. Remember, you want people to help you, and asking for things in an overly aggressive or pushy way is likely to put them off doing this and may even damage your relationship.

3. Acknowledge That You Can’t Control Other People’s Behavior

Don’t make the mistake of accepting responsibility for how people react to your assertiveness. If they, for example, act angry or resentful toward you, try to avoid reacting to them in the same way.

Remember that you can only control yourself and your own behavior, so do your best to stay calm and measured if things get tense. As long as you are being respectful and not violating someone else’s needs, then you have the right to say or do what you want.

The LADDER mnemonic is an effective way of assertively resolving problems. You can read about it in our Bite-Sized Training™ session on Assertiveness, here .

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    How to Get What You Want Every Time You Ask for It

    Follow these 6 simple steps to ask for anything with confidence and get what you want with assurance.

    How to ask for what you want

    Have you ever wondered why some people always know how to get what they want? It may look like they’re gifted or clever or lucky, but the truth is they just know how to ask.

    Great communicators are able to frame their ask in a way that gets them what they want. They know how to give meaning to what they want, and then they watch it happen.

    Follow this simple system to start making it happen for you.

    1. Know what you want.

    It’s surprising how often people say they want something but can’t really communicate what it is–usually because they haven’t fully thought it through themselves. The first step, then, is to make sure you understand exactly what it is you want and that you can define it in positive, clear, and detailed terms.

    2. Banish fear and negativity.

    Even when you’re not aware of its presence, a deep-seated fear of failure or rejection can undermine you. When this lurking monster shows up, it can make you feel insecure, which threatens your confidence and can make you step inward instead of forward. Remember that the biggest risk of all is not trying. Look your fear in the eye and go for it anyway.

    3. Understand whom you’re asking.

    It’s easy to get so caught up in what you want that you forget whom you’re asking it of. People have varying and deeply held emotions, values, experiences, and viewpoints. They’re prone to their own biases and perceptions–and, of course, so are we. Keep in mind that you are dealing with another human being, and communication built on trust, understanding, and respect will be most likely to lead to an outcome that makes both of you happy.

    4. Make sure you know what’s being offered.

    The best way to do this is to listen and ask questions. Pay attention to what’s not being said. Stay focused and take notes if you need to. A clear understanding will help you know if you’re on the road to a good outcome or being sidetracked with distractions.

    5. Start with small wins.

    In a more long-term situation, start by asking for small things. Make it easy for those you’re negotiating with to develop the habit of saying yes to you.

    6. Finally, bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed is more important than anything else.

    If your first ask doesn’t work, try a different approach. Be flexible but determined until you get what you want. Those who fail are often the ones who don’t realize how close they are, so they just give up.

    Try this the next time you want something and see how it works!

    How to ask for what you want

    Can you imagine a job where you can ask for exactly what you want and get it? Do these jobs actually exist? It turns out they do! I was recently inspired and rather surprised when a friend of mine shared she ended up extending her two week vacation from work to three weeks. When I asked her how she managed to do that her response was, “I just told the truth and asked for what I needed.” Her first week and a half of vacation visiting home turned out to include more work and obligations than she bargained for. Coupled with bad weather that kept her housebound, she felt she had not had enough rest, relaxation and fun. Instead of making up some story about why she needed more time off, she simply told her boss she did not feel rejuvenated to come back and asked for another week.

    Without hesitation, her boss gave her the extra week and expressed that he’d rather have her gone than come back more stressed than she was when she left. It’s worth mentioning that my friend’s position at her company is extremely busy and her absence was not something the company did not feel; however, her boss had the ability to see the bigger picture. Unfortunately, I cannot think of many companies where an employee can call their boss and say “I haven’t had enough fun yet on my vacation so I’m staying an extra week” and be supported. But after hearing about her renewed enthusiasm for her job and increased gratitude for the place she works, I wonder why more employers do not treat their employees with the same degree of personal support and understanding.

    This got me thinking about all the people I’ve coached who come in struggling with wanting to ask for something like a vacation, different hours, or a raise from an employer and being absolutely petrified to do so. So many times I have had to dissuade a client from fabricating a story or coming up with excuses to justify a well-deserved and reasonable request. I advise them to present their request in a professional, articulate, non-emotional way and tell the truth. Usually the response I get to this advice is something along the lines of, “The truth? You mean just outright ask for what I want? I don’t think I can do that.” I get it. I remember my days of working as an assistant at a talent agency and being terrified to ask to go to the doctor or to take a day off when I felt completely drained for fear that I would either be yelled at or told no without any explanation.

    Like I did in the past, many employees continue to buy into the belief that when it comes to asking for what they want at work, it’s better to either suck it up and not rock the boat in anyway or come up with some kind of acceptable white lie they believe will be more acceptable than the truth. But this kind of behavior does not make employees more valuable to their companies – all it does is reinforce old paradigms of hierarchal corporate structure, division, and dishonesty.

    Imagine the changes companies may experience if we could eliminate the fear and intimidation from our workplace culture. Imagine the loyalty companies would receive from their employees if employees could openly communicate when they needed additional support in some way and not fear loosing their job because of it. Imagine how much more empowered employees would feel if they could ask for what they want at work and actually be heard without resistance.

    I realize a lot of employers may have employees that are plenty demanding and have no trouble asking for what they want. However, the majority of employees in the workforce today, especially when the fear of loosing one’s job is so prevalent, are nervous to ask for anything outside of their comfort zone. If you are such employee, playing it ultra-safe right now may feel acceptable, but it is creating bad habits of not making self-honoring choices which will begin to impact your work performance. So my encouragement to employees is to start asking for what you want at work that will increase your productivity, reinstate your loyalty and uplift your attitude at work. Make a reasonable and well-deserved request in a non-demanding, honest way. And my encouragement to employers is to meet your employee’s request with an open mind and a willingness to see the big picture – both for your company, for your subordinate, and for yourself as a leader.

    How to ask for what you want

    Everything’s negotiable. There was a time when I didn’t think that statement applied to me. I didn’t think I had any leverage. I didn’t think I had any power. I didn’t think I had a voice. However, I eventually found out that I had all this and much more once I understood that I was the key. I had to know who I was, what my values were and how my values aligned with what I wanted. This meant that if I didn’t know who I was or what my values were, I was not going to be able to convince anyone of anything.

    Makes sense, right? It does now but it is not easy to get where I am now. If it were so easy, everyone would be a successful negotiator and that is not the case. Negotiation takes preparation and practice. In fact, the act of negotiating can be challenging and have many facets. Let’s examine a common scenario: negotiating for a promotion.

    The Pre-Negotiation Phase

    Ask yourself this question: Why do I want a promotion — more money, prestige, less stress, something else? Does your answer align with your values, those things that you believe are important to the way you live, work and play?

    If everything aligns, you should move forward and take the next planning steps. If everything doesn’t align or you are not sure of what your values are, I would recommend delaying the negotiation process to work on yourself. From a career coach perspective, you shouldn’t take the next forward-moving action without some introspection. I have clients who have trouble putting their values into words and that is OK. You can use phrases when thinking about what makes you happy, gives you joy and helps you wake up relaxed and refreshed, ready to tackle another day. Values can make you feel good about yourself. Think about what your top three to five values might be. These will be your core values. (If you need further help deciding on your values, do a search for a list of core values, select any that are applicable and the top three to five will be your core values.)

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    The Planning Phase

    You need to have a plan and work that plan by keeping the following in mind:

    1. Make sure you’re ready for a promotion. You need to know the value you bring to the company. What’s your track record? If you are unsure, it is likely not the ideal time to negotiate anything, but if you need an outsider’s opinion, ask your mentor, sponsor, champion, etc., or take advantage of the 360-degree review process. Timing is everything and you want to ensure you have someone who can support you and your efforts. Once you know you are on solid ground, you can prepare mentally and physically for the negotiation process.

    2. Determine the best way to ask. Who do you need to negotiate with? One person or many? When is the best time to negotiate, i.e., on the clock, during lunch time, after hours, after a scheduled appointment? Or do you need to schedule an appointment? Where is the best place — the office, at an after-hours event or at a before-hours event? How should you engage in the negotiation process? In writing, in person, on the phone, via computer, off-site/onsite?

    3. Know what it is you want but have some flexibility. For example, if you want a $2,000 salary increase but there are no funds in the budget, would you consider taking a title change and more benefits that still align with your values and provide you with a better quality of life? Play out the scenario in your head and have a backup plan in the event the scenario changes. This applies to your “ask,” but also to the situation itself. Say you plan to meet in the decision-maker’s office, but then they ask you to walk and talk so they can make it to their next appointment on time. Don’t get discombobulated if this occurs. This might be a test, so work your magic. Don’t lose your cool. Demonstrate your composure, flexibility and determination. Keep your emotions in check.

    4. Mirror the person you’re negotiating with. Match the decision maker’s posture. If he or she is sitting, make sure you sit in a similar manner. Similarly, play key words back to the person you’re speaking with. For example, if there are certain phrases he or she uses, use them in the negotiation dialogue to justify the negotiation. In my experience, decision-makers like the fact that you listened to them enough to play back their own words and it boosts their ego.

    5. Know your company culture. This applies to both the big picture and the small details (i.e., if everyone wears white shirts and blue suits, don’t wear a red one). You should also practice the “What’s in it for me?” or “WIFM” technique to showcase how your “ask” fits in with the company’s strategy, vision and goals.

    It takes work to plan and prepare, but the success outweighs the agonizing emotions and the deliberate actions that you will undertake.

    The Negotiation Phase

    I have used this process to negotiate everything for some 20-plus years. It took some time to perfect it, but once perfected, my negotiation process has never failed me. That said, the success of these actions is dependent on your knowledge, understanding and clarity as it relates to your values, the company vision and goals and your mindset. As the motivational speaker Tony Gaskins once said, “Know who you are. Know what you want. Know what you deserve. And don’t settle for less.”

    Forbes Coaches Council is an invitation-only community for leading business and career coaches. Do I qualify?

    How to ask for what you wantHere’s a hard truth some of you will hate to hear: If you don’t stand up for yourself and specifically ask for what you want, need and deserve in the workplace, you probably won’t get it. (Like this thought? Tweet it!)

    Most people — your managers, coworkers, clients, etc. — aren’t looking out for anyone but themselves. This shouldn’t surprise or anger you. Yet every day, I meet professionals who are unwilling to take responsibility for their own needs and desires because they’re afraid or embarrassed. They think, “If I really deserve this thing, they’ll offer it to me.”

    These people find excuses for why things don’t work out; they drop hints and play games. But they never just bite the bullet and say, “Here’s what I want, here’s why I want it and here’s why I think you should give it to me.” And then they wonder why they feel so powerless.

    People can’t read your mind (and, let’s face it, they wouldn’t want to if they could). So it’s up to you to explain what’s going on in there. When you want something, you have to ask for it, plain and simple. Here’s how:

    1. Know Why It Matters

    Whatever “it” is — a promotion, a raise, an extra day of vacation, a little help with a project — you have to be clear about what it’s worth to you, why you’re willing to stand up for it and why it should be yours.

    Come up with the top three reasons your boss (or client, or coworker or whoever) simply can’t say no. And, most importantly, make sure you believe you deserve it with all your heart (even if it takes a little convincing).

    2. Be Clear

    The process of asking works best when you’re specific, concise and very, very direct. The more vague you are, the more likely your request will be misinterpreted or ignored.

    I recommend writing it out. One or two sentences is usually all it takes to clearly state your case. It also works best to start with the words, “I’m asking for…” so there’s no confusion.

    3. Pick Your Time

    Make sure the person to whom you’re making your request is really listening. Otherwise, your efforts will be wasted. If needed, ask for an appointment to ensure there are no interruptions.

    Also make sure you’re directing your “ask” to the right person.

    4. Prepare for Objections

    If something matters, it probably won’t be handed over without a little hesitation. That’s perfectly fine. Prepare in advance for potential objections, but don’t do the work for them.

    In this process, you are the sales person. Recognize that your “buyer” is just doing his due diligence, but don’t let him persuade you. Stand firm and map out your rebuttals. Look at it as a challenge. This is the fun part!

    5. Practice

    Confidence makes all the difference. Put your thoughts on paper and then practice, practice, practice. Stand in front of the mirror and watch yourself. Don’t stop until you’re thoroughly comfortable and the words roll off your tongue.

    Yes, it might feel a little goofy at first, but you’ll get over it. The more you can demonstrate that you believe in yourself and that what you’re asking for is rightfully yours, the greater the chance that you’ll get a positive response.

    6. Be Persistent

    If your request is declined, don’t put your tail between your legs and go home. Instead, use this as a conversation starter.

    Ask for more information. Fight for your point of view. Find out what needs to happen in order to get to “yes.” Press for specifics and get agreement. Then, follow up.

    Remember, when something is really worthwhile, it may take time to achieve. But it all starts with asking.

    This post was originally published at Eat Your Career.

    Because sometimes spelling it out isn’t so sexy

    How to ask for what you want

    Let’s face it, sometimes it can be intimidating or awkward to flat out ask for exactly what you want in bed. Whether it’s a new relationship and you’re just getting your rhythm down or you’ve been with a guy for a while and want to kink things up, a little subtlety in delivery can go a long way. We asked some experts about creative ways to introduce new pleasures into the bedroom without actually having to spell it out.

    1. Email Him a NSFW Video
    Maybe you saw something crazy-hot in a porn clip that really got you thinking or there was a particularly racy scene from Game of Thrones that got you very hot and bothered, but you’re not sure how to bring it up. Easy: Email it to him, suggests sex therapist Megan Fleming, Ph.D., and give him some time to watch it on his own before sending over your own thoughts. Then, once you’re together, ask him what he thought and if he liked it. When the conversation is flowing, it’ll be a lot easier to mention how turned on you were by that special move James Deen did right at the end.

    2. Leave Him Naughty Hints
    Whether it’s a browser window that you just happen to leave open or a magazine flipped to a particular page for him to find, articles about sex tips or sex toys for couples can really educate and encourage discussion on the topic. Even sending a suggestive text linked to an article (with pictures) can be just the trick to get his gears turning about new ways to pleasure you. “As much as the stereotype is that men are all about themselves and their own orgasm, men really do want to please their partners,” explains Fleming. So you’re essentially using the articles as an opportunity to ask, “Anything here you’d want to try?”

    3. Share the Details of Your R-Rated Sex Dream
    Remember that ridiculously hot sex-in-the-woods dream you had a while back? Letting your partner in on your private fantasies is a great way to inspire more diversity in your sex life. If you’re only getting busy in your bedroom and you’re a bit more of an exhibitionist, that story could be the turning point to see what he thinks about an outdoor rendezvous. Part of the adventure and the excitement of exploring new sexual activities is walking a scary tightrope between what you’re totally comfortable with and what you’re not necessarily comfortable with, says Fleming. You won’t know what you like until you (gently) broach the subject.