Just Ask

Just Ask

This is pretty simple, but a word of advice. Just ask. Don't ever assume that people know what you are thinking or that this is just the way it is. As they say when you assume, that just makes and "ass of u and me." 


I've been an employee for almost 15 years and a manager of people for 12 of those years. And through that time, I've been a project manager supervising a team of 5 in a small online advertising agency, managing one person in a corporate Fortune 500 people and most recently a team of over 20 people with a mix of Sr. Managers, Managers and Supervisors. The point being is that I've had many experiences of knowing what happens when people DON'T ask from both sides of the table. 

It's the result of NOT having had the questions asked that I hear the comments/complaints:

  • Oh I didn't know 
  • I thought you heard me
  • I assumed you would do the "right" thing

When you don't ask...what do you think happens? You don't get what you want, and the person you were asking the question to never knew. And then you start thinking that the other person ignored you, or wasn't considerate or is just being a plain donkey hole. Well...I find that most of the time, people didn't even realize, or perceptions were different, or just that messages were missed. It just creates a whole lot of confusion and unnecessary angst. So the key point to all of this is to AVOID the stress, so JUST ASK! And look, there is a way to ask, and just know that even if you don't get the end result you want, the point is now you know. You will know where you stand, you are clear that the other person heard you. 

STEP 1: Create the Setting:

  • Get a meeting room, normally I would recommend out of the normal confines of your usual working area. Prying eyes, prying ears....get rid of the extra noise.
  • Don't surprise the other person. Set a time and just give them a heads up. This allows for the other person to have a quick gut check. I'm not saying schedule it for the next week, cause you don't want the other party's mind to wander and linger of WHAT COULD IT BE? A "hey, do you have some time this afternoon, or let me know if there is a good time for you. Probably need about a half hour."
  • Give them a synopsis of what you want to talk about. "I'd just want to talk about possible growth opportunities." or "I'd like to get your input on this situation I could use some help to resolve."  You may not want to lay everything out on the table like, "Um, I'd like to talk about getting a raise." I would recommend to keep it relatively generic, but enough where they have an idea of what the topic would be to ease the initial curiosity and concerns.

Talk to me

and I'll listen

STEP 2: Come prepared

  • Whatever the situation is, get your facts in order. Bring notes, or have a list that you want to talk about so you ensure you don't miss anything.
  • If there is a situation where you want to talk about getting the other person's opinion on a matter, outline the FACTS. 

STEP 3: Keep an open mind

  • Try to remember, you only know what you know. The other person only knows what they know. Often in such situations, both parties are not on the same page. Your own perception may be skewed because you yourself didn't know the facts.
  • The response may not be what you expected, but acknowledge that this is the first time the other person is hearing the situation.
  • They may not be ready to process, so if they don't have an answer right away, say its okay, but ask for when they can get back to you soon with a date.

STEP 4: Do a follow up

  • Make sure you follow up your conversation with something in writing to acknowledge.
  • If you  haven't heard after the agreed upon time frame, there is no problem to follow up again. Know that we are all busy, with emails, meetings, life. A gentle reminder doesn't hurt. Put yourself in the other person's shoes, as people forget. We are only human. 

STEP 5: Accept the result, whatever it may be.

  • Know and weigh the potential consequences
  • Know how you may feel if the answer would be no. And acknowledge what you would say if the answer is yes (it's never that simple, but for sake of today, let's keep it a simple no/yes)
  • And whatever the answer is, be prepared for your NEXT step and what you would say as a response. 

Ultimately your situation is in YOUR control. If you don't like it, change it. If you don't think its fair, change it. If you think you have a better idea, speak up. If you are thinking what is that person taking so long to get back to me, ask again! Always look at the total pictures, reflect internally and talk to your peers to get some perspective on things. But like I said, I always say JUST ASK. 

Grow a Spine

Grow a Spine

Flowers are Red

Flowers are Red