How To Get A Backbone And Say What You Actually Mean

Recently, I needed some help spreading the word about something I’d created.

I woke up one morning with the idea of asking some of my friends and clients to share the details about it with their friends and people they know, maybe via their Facebook page or email, or in a way that felt good to them.

And yet…I didn’t.

Something stopped me from asking them.

Instead, I just sat on the idea and went round and round in circles, not wanting to ask and yet feeling frustrated with myself for not.

Do you do this too?

I hear this a lot from people I work with, things like, “Oh, I could ask for help, but I know he’s busy, so I’ll just do it myself.” Or, “I don’t want to bother them right now.” Or, “There’s no fucking way I’d ask. No way. Not going to happen.”

Why do we do this to ourselves? Where did we learn that asking isn’t ok? When did we start worrying about putting people out?

I think rejection has a lot to do with it. Fear of rejection. Fear of being told “No”, or “Sorry, I can’t”, or worse, hearing nothing, just deathly silence.

Asking is hard. It takes guts. And putting yourself on the line.

And yet when we do ask, when we do say what we want, out loud, we get an answer. We get to know one way or the other. Which is always, always, always a better feeling than not knowing.

“If you don’t ask, the answer is always no.”

Asking for what we want is an integral part of being human. It’s not selfish, it’s not me-me-me-me, it’s not demanding and it doesn’t mean we’re spoilt. It’s the difference between a steamy moment with your significant (or not so significant) other and silently thinking “JUST MOVE TO THE RIGHT A BIT, NO, NOT LIKE THAT, OH MAN, I’M JUST GOING TO MENTALLY DO THE SHOPPING LIST”, and saying, out loud to them, “Just move to the right a bit, because it feels amazing there.”

Not asking can be frustrating and full of resentment. Or it can be simple and straight-up (and can lead to much better sex).

And, of course, this is not just about sex.

It’s about life. And communicating. Clearly.

It’s about being honest with your boss when he asks you if you had a good weekend off, and instead of saying, “You know, I didn’t. I’m feeling so overloaded with work right now, I chose to spend most of Saturday afternoon finishing those reports. Can we talk about this later, and see if there’s a way you can help?, you passively aggressively say, “Ha, chance would be a fine thing. I had to finish those reports, didn’t I?”

It’s about saying, “Big parties aren’t for me, although I’m grateful for the invite. I’d still love to catch up with you though. How’s Monday next week, coffee in that cool little cafe at the bottom of your street?” instead of, “Thank for the invite. I’ll check my diary and let you know!” (and then you don’t).

It’s about being clear when you find someone’s behaviour hurtful, or offensive or concerning, with that person, instead of posting a vague or not so vague status on your Facebook page or bitching about it to your friends.

Not saying what you really mean is like punching the other person in the face.

Not asking for what you want is like punching yourself in the face.

You’re not going to get the response you’re looking for. On both counts. Ever.

I wrote to my friends and family and clients in the end. I asked them if they’d share what I’d created with others.

And guess what?

They did. No big deal. No drama.

Maybe it’s time for you to ask too. To ask for what you want. Clearly and with kindness. To say what you mean. Clearly and with kindness.

It might just be the shift you need. TC mark

Related

More From Thought Catalog