Want Something? Ask For It

When I watched and listened to Brene Brown updating us on her work and research into vulnerability last year, she said something in her closing remarks that stuck with me:

I ask for what I need. This feels inherently vulnerable, and do it.’

I know where she is coming from. Maybe it’s a typically reserved Brit thing – but I’m often rubbish at asking for something – simply and clearly. Are you?

I frequently see people frustrated at work by an unwillingness to ask for what they need. Complaining about shortages of resources, unhappy that Doug won’t do as he’s damn well told, stuff like that. And often – when you push back, it transpires that the complaint is voiced before any direct request to fix the shortage, and the unhappiness has manifested itself before Doug’s been asked for whatever it is he won’t do.

When I see these frustrations being played, out, I will say, ‘have you asked Doug?’ And usually the reply (accompanied by some beautiful staring at your shoes action) comes, ‘weeeeellll, no – not exactly.’ We’ve all been there, it’s often easier to blame someone and/or something than it is to take action.

This notion of asking for what we need stuck with me so firmly, I included it in Stop Doing Dumb Things.

Want Something? Ask for it

It’s a card that really challenges me – and often they are the ones I like the best.

I’m in Manchester this morning enjoying the fine weather and getting ready to travel home after running an Art for Work’s Sake workshop yesterday afternoon, and enjoying some lovely company at an HR tweet up last night.

Previously when I’ve run open courses, I’ve put together the offer, stuck it on Eventbrite and waved it about on social media. A few people always generously share the news – and often, not much more happens. It was Meg Peppin who suggested that this time – I approach things much more specifically. So this time, in addition to what I usually do, I contacted people who have been to previous workshops and people I thought might be interested. I didn’t mass mail folks, I wrote little personal notes, lots of them. In the notes I asked if people wanted to come along and would they please help spread the word. The response was significant, generous and lovely. People shared the news widely and encouragingly, and many wrote back to me with all kinds of support. Thank you to everyone who came and took part yesterday, and to the many people whose support helped to make yesterday a lot of useful fun, thank you too.

On reflection – I clearly grafted a lot harder to make this session work than I’ve done previously, that’s important learning too. And having a clear message, with a clear request makes a huge difference.

So the next time you hear colleagues moaning that Doug hasn’t done whatever it is he’s supposed to have done, test them out with ‘Want Something? Ask for it.’ And if I can be of use to you – well you know what to do…

Happy Friday – have a great weekend.

Author: Doug Shaw

Artist and Consultant. Embracing uncertainty, sketching myself into existence. Helping people do things differently, through an artistic lens.

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