Sunday, 2 September 2018

The Power of 'Asking' - How It Had Worked in My Favour and It Could Work for You Too

the power of asking

Just ask.

Two simple words which are not practised often enough.

I genuinely think that 'fear' is the main reason why people often don't ask for what they want or need. However, this fear is only a mind-game that is playing in your head, and what if I tell you, more often than not when you ask, the response tends to be a positive one. Even if the answer is not what you were hoping to be, what have you got to lose? At least you now know the answer and you could explore other options.

Today, I thought I'd share my experiences of 'asking' and how it had worked in my favour. Hopefully, it will give you the nudge and encouragement to do the same if it is something that you have been thinking about, but not quite have the courage to pursue.

the power of asking 6-week Sabbatical 

Back in 2013, I took a 6-week sabbatical from work to travel and almost everyone in my team was astonished at how I managed to do that. I was working for one of the Big 4 accounting firms, which is commonly known as a place where one works super hard to gain highly marketable experience in exchange for little financial compensation until one becomes a Partner. So naturally, the thought of taking, let alone asking for, a prolonged time off work is almost unheard of, if not a crazy idea.

I remember perfectly that the light bulb moment appeared during the Christmas-New Year holiday at the end of 2012. 2012 was a big year for me - it was the year that I got a big promotion at work and climbed on the property ladder. Naturally, I was beyond tired at the end of the year and felt that I could do with a longer break from work other than the usual one or two weeks holiday. Furthermore, I was starting to feel distant and detached from my family having lived in London for over 5 years. Not to mention that while my prowess of Europe had improved, there are so many exotic places in South East Asia that I haven't seen.

So on returning to work in the new year, I set up a meeting with my boss to kick off the conversation of my intention to take a 6-weeks sabbatical over the summer period and if it is something that he would approve. The response was a 'yes' (!) and all I had to do was submitted the working papers to get the ball rolling and blacked-out my schedule for the said period so everyone knew that I wasn't available for any projects. The conversation took less than 15 minutes, I kid you not!

Secondment To Another Team

If you have been following me, and read this and this posts, you will have known that I am currently on a secondment to a different team at work. Again, I got to know about the opportunity simply by asking. 

As I became aware that my colleague's pregnancy due date was approaching, I asked what is the plan to fill in her role while she goes on her maternity leave? That one question led me to have a coffee with her boss who thought I'd be a good candidate to provide temporary cover for the role with the option of returning to my existing role at the end of secondment. That way, he will have a resource to cover for the gap in his team, and I will be able to expand my skill sets and gain more experience too. Win-win! 

Other than the two instances above, I also used the power of asking as I navigate my day-to-day life. Whether it was asking to taste the flavour of a soup or asking for a sample of a colour-matched foundation before committing to buying the full-size version, I've done it. These instances had saved me from making costly mistakes. 

I hope my stories had shown you the power of 'asking' and how it could help you get what you want and need. 

To end this post, I thought I'd list down below the things to consider when you're 'asking'. 

1. Build a strong case and think it through - Know what you want. Be specific with your request. The what-when-why-how is a good framework to use. Often, well-thought and polite requests are rarely turned down. 

2. Be reasonable and flexible. When I asked for my 6-weeks sabbatical, I told my boss of my intention well in advance (more than 6 months notice) and I chose the summer period to do it because it is often a quiet time of the year. Christmas is a good alternative too. 

3. Be prepared for a 'no'. I don't know about you, but I often think of the worst case scenario, so if anything else comes out of it, it'll be a bonus!

I hope you have found this post useful and if you also believe in the power of 'asking', do share your experiences below. I'd love to hear them! x

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