Knowing What I Want and Asking for It

Photo by Ashtyn Warner

Photo by Ashtyn Warner

Over the last year, I've practiced saying "yes"--to speaking at conferences, to making new friends, to going outside of my comfort zone.  In doing so, I've learned about myself and even how useful "no" can be.  I recognize more quickly now when I have overcommitted myself.  And I realized how hard it is for me to ask others for things.

Requesting is a powerful coaching skill, and it is first evident as the coach and client design their alliance—to create a safe and powerful relationship for coaching, both parties make requests about how to handle certain topics or situations that may come up.  I’ve seen how making requests can strengthen other relationships too; in sharing the impact of an action and asking for something to be done differently in the future, bonds between people are tightened.  The relationship health increases as requests are offered and received.  Trust is enhanced as the requestor is open to a true “yes,” “no,” or counteroffer (otherwise the requestor is making a demand).

I understand how to make requests and the good they bring, and yet I sometimes struggle to answer prerequisite questions like:

  • How am I feeling currently?
  • What would I like this relationship to feel like?
  • How can we work better together?
  • What would help me bring my best to this relationship?

Simply put, I don't know what to request!  I’ve been looking for opportunities to practice requesting, and they’re hard for me to see.  There have been windows to ask for things I didn’t think I’d actually get, and I’ve been pleasantly surprised at how easily people say “yes” and support me—I love that.  When it comes to things that really matter and require more vulnerability in the ask, I am at a loss.

How have you learned to make requests?

Allison Pollard

I help people discover their agile instincts and develop their coaching abilities. As an agile coach with Improving in Dallas, I enjoy mentoring others to become great Scrum Masters, coaching managers to grow teams that deliver amazing results, and fostering communities that provide sustainability for agile transformations. In my experience, applying agile methods improves delivery, strengthens relationships, and builds trust between business and IT. A big believer in the power of community-based learning, I grew the DFW Scrum user group significantly over the five years I served as an organizer. I am also a Certified Professional Co-Active Coach, a foodie, and proud glasses wearer.