Asking for What You Need

by | Dec 23, 2020 | Coaching, Professional Development, Reflections

This was the second time the instructor did the new step sequence and I just wasn’t picking it up.

Instead of enjoying my Zumba class (virtual) as I normally do, I felt frustrated.  Why couldn’t I get it? If she could just slow down and show us.

I had to drop off the class early to hop onto another call. I was in a foul mood and carried the negative energy with me. What was my problem?

After my call, I had a break in my schedule, so I sat down in the quiet of my apartment and reflected on what was going on with me and why I felt this way.

After some introspection I realized I wanted the instructor to magically know that I wasn’t following the new steps and to somehow get the notion to slow down and break down the step sequence.

Ridiculous, right? I mean, how do others know what we want or need unless we tell them? And yet, often times, we expect others around us to see and hear us, or “read” us and figure it out.  Why?

Can you relate?

In the quiet, I heard my Master Coach’s voice from our certification program saying, “Ask for what you need.” It was one of our ground rules for our certification cohort and I can still see it written on the flipchart in the front of the room.

I thought about this more when I was presented with a contract for work with a rate far below my norm. At first, I had a lot of feelings. When I came back to earth I realized, how could the vendor possibly know anything about what I wanted or needed when I hadn’t told them? After all, this vendor didn’t even know me! So I took out my trusty yellow pad again and pondered, what did I want? What did I need?

I wanted the work.  Why? It was fun work, and in the realm of my expertise to deliver. What did I need? I needed to be paid a rate commensurate with the market and my experience.

Why is this so hard for us to do? Asking for what we want or need is hard stuff! It requires us to have the courage to be seen, be vulnerable, and to admit we might need help from someone else. Sure, it may be easier in the short term to be invisible and sit and sulk (well, if they were paying attention, they would just KNOW what I wanted or needed). In the long run, does that meet your goal? In reality, no one is a mind-reader and they can’t possibly know what you feel, think, want or need all of the time (or maybe even part of the time.)

Asking for what we need also forces us to be in the driver’s seat of our life, rather than being in the passenger seat and letting someone just take us wherever they want us to go. That could mean accepting a salary less than you deserve, accepting terms of a relationship, personal or otherwise, that you don’t like, or doing more than your fair share of the work.  Being in the driver’s seat forces us to take control of getting what we want and need. Sometimes that involves asserting ourselves or taking a risk, and that might feel uncomfortable.  It’s also empowering to realize we have agency over our lives and if we choose to remain invisible, we give up that agency to someone else.

Where are you struggling and staying quiet? How is it holding you back? Where are your opportunities to be heard, show up, and ask for what you need? Are you riding shotgun (or even in the back) when you really need to be driving? I’d love to hear your insights.

Photo credit Logan Fisher via

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Nancy Jacoby,

Nancy is a registered nurse, recovering hospital administrator and ICF certified coach and consultant. She leads individuals, teams and organizations in growth, development and process improvement to yield sustained change and desired outcomes. 

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Nancy Jacoby, RN, MBA, MHSA, FACHE, ACC  |  212.779.2049  |  Connect on LinkedIn

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