58. Why you have trouble asking for what you want and what to do about it
Welcome to coaching for Latina leaders, the only podcast dedicated to the advancement of Latinas at every level of life with your host, Dr. Vanessa Calderon, a Latina with over 20 years of leadership experience, Harvard grad physician, and mother of two.
Hello, cuties. Welcome back. So today I want to talk about why we sell ourselves short and have trouble asking for what we want, okay, and what to do about it. So let me just share something about myself. So for many, many years, like most humans, I was deeply insecure. And I had a ton of fears when it came to asking for what I wanted because I was afraid to be rejected. And so I thought that to avoid rejection, I needed to ask for things perfectly and in the right way. I was also afraid to be judged, especially by specific authority figures whose respect I craved. And it took me a lot of times, putting myself out there over and over again, and being afraid to feel the rejection but doing it anyway, to start feeling more and more confident. And then I read really compelling research by a social psychologist named Dr. Vanessa Baynes. She's a social psychologist at Cornell. And her research challenged a lot of my limiting beliefs about my fear of asking for what I wanted. And it got me to think really differently, and it ultimately changed my behavior.
So today, I want to share with you what I've learned. And if you're like me, and you have trouble asking for what you want, I hope that this podcast today challenges a lot of your limiting beliefs, and helps you shift and develop more confidence so that you can ask for what you want in a way that's direct and in service to you forward in yourself, okay, and being a better version of yourself. Okay, so let's start on why we sell ourselves short. So what's really interesting is that we are underconfident when it comes to influencing people. We think that we don't have influence over people. And so we're afraid to ask for what we want.
And the reason why is when it comes to trying to influence other people, we tend to compare ourselves with the most social people that we know. And if you are like, you know, most people out there right now, you're probably online on social media. So you might be comparing yourself to Instagram influencers. So of course, it's no wonder that we are so you know, afraid to ask for something, we don't think we have that same level of influence. Another reason is that we tend to focus on our own insecurities. And we think that people are paying way more attention to those insecurities and those shortcomings. And they actually are, which, of course, makes us feel less confident, when in fact, people are just much in their own heads and focused way more on their own self-critical thoughts and their own insecurities. And they are on us. And the truth is that people like us way more than we think they like us. In fact, there was another research study that was published by Dr. Erica Boothby. And that research study found that when we have a conversation with a stranger, for example, we walk away from that interaction, focusing on all of the things that we said wrong.
Think about how often we do this. It's so common, when was the last time you did this? You have a conversation with somebody, you turn around and walk away, and then you start judging yourself for the things that you said, Why did I say that? I should have said that differently. They're probably judging me. And we tend to do this sort of post-mortem about the conversation in our heads, and we're really hard on ourselves. But what research shows is that the other person isn't thinking that at all. They're saying to themselves, hmm, that was a really nice conversation. All they're doing is reflecting on how lovely the conversation was, while we, on the other hand, are really judging ourselves. So what ends up happening is we end up missing how much the other person liked us and enjoy the interaction. We don't let in that good stuff.
The new research is really interesting because there's a long history of other research that shows how we tend to overestimate ourselves in a bunch of different ways. But when it comes to our influence over other people, we seem to just grossly underestimate ourselves. And the thing is that people are likely to give us what we ask for, especially when we ask directly and specifically, but the problem is, we are hesitant to ask. So why is there that disconnect? Well, for one, our brain has this inherent negativity bias. You've heard me talk about this before, if you've been listening to the podcast, any negative event will stick to our brain like Velcro. But positive events, slip right off like Teflon. And that's an evolutionary adaptation that our brain has developed to keep us safe. What this means then, is that one rejection in the past, even if it's in the sea of, let's say, five different yeses, our brain will deeply remember. And our body will also remember the feeling associated with that rejection, our brain will remember, and our body will remember what that felt like.
And that's what keeps us from asking for something in the future. Because our body is afraid to feel that same level of rejection. But what's really important to highlight here is this. It's the thought that they'll just say no, or the thought that they may reject me, that thought, in our brain, that's not at all reality. It's just a thought. And the associated feeling that comes with that thought. So if remember, the cognitive thought model, we have the thought that causes us to feel a feeling. So that thought they'll just say no, that might make you feel, you know, sad or disappointed or afraid. And that thought-feeling combination. That is what's keeping us from ultimately asking for what we want.
But according to research, the truth is that it's really hard for people to say no. Why? Because it's uncomfortable for them to say no. And in fact, they want to say, yes, they want to be helpful. And it's hard for them to reject the request because then they have to come up with the right words to reject the request. They don't want to feel uncomfortable, and they want to essentially be helpful, humans want to be helpful. So when we ask for what we want, we're more likely to get it if we ask specifically and directly. Okay, so I want you to keep a few other things in mind.
Okay, so let's recap a few things here. Number one, we are underconfident about our level of influence. And we fear rejection. Okay, we're definitely afraid of rejection, which means we're afraid to ask for what we want. But it also means that when we do ask, we ask for things in ineffective ways. For
example, we tend to ask by email instead of asking face to face, because we have this subconscious thought that it will be easier to handle the rejection if we ask by email than if we ask face to face. But asking the person face to face is way more effective. And we also tend to hint at the request instead of being really direct and specific. Because we're so afraid that if we're direct, they'll just reject us right away. And we have a subconscious thought that our fridges gently walk around the request, and hint gently, then it's harder for them to reject us, or it'll take longer for them to reject us. But all too often, what we know to be true, is that asking specifically and directly is what will help them give us what we want.
Okay, so the other thing is this, that in a, now that you know all of these things, and now that you recognize your level of influence, how can you use that to also strengthen your relationships. So I want to just leave you with this because your words are greatly impactful. And when you give somebody a genuine compliment, for example, that level of influence that you have, you are essentially showing them that they matter. And when you acknowledge them, it's the same thing. But we don't do that enough. And it's for the same reason that we mentioned all of these things because we're afraid to feel awkward. We think it will be uncomfortable when we give somebody a genuine compliment. But I want you to know that just the way if you're open to receiving a compliment, just how that makes you feel good about yourself when somebody acknowledges you, especially a colleague or somebody you love like a spouse or a partner when they acknowledge you. They have that same feeling when you acknowledge them. So next time you're feeling a genuine sense of you know, that maybe they're wearing something that looks really nice, or they did something that was really helpful. It makes a huge difference to them to just give them that genuine compliment and it doesn't have to be perfect. You can just say that was really nice. Thank you. And that goes a really long way.
Okay, so let's summarize here. Alright, number one. Number one is others are not judging us as harshly as we think that they're judging us. In fact, people like us way more than we imagine that they do. And they're happy to help us, and happier to help us than we actually realize they are. Number two, speak up when it makes sense to do so raise your hand, and give a compliment when it makes sense to do so. And ask for what you want directly and specifically, with confidence, know that it's actually difficult for them to say no, and they actually want to be helpful. Okay. And lastly, let me leave you with this, it's not about asking for something in the perfect way. It's just about asking. And it's not about saying things in a specific certain way. It's just about saying them. That is it.
Okay, I hope this was really helpful. And if you're someone like me that had these thoughts of insecurities, and was afraid to be judged, and was so afraid to feel rejected, I hope that this podcast episode is challenging some of those limiting beliefs. So you can start acknowledging that level of influence you have, and start slow. Start by just slowly complimenting people. And then start by making small asks, small, specific, and directly ask in person. And again, just leave space to feel that discomfort, it's going to feel uncomfortable because you're afraid to feel that rejection. So leave space for that and say, Okay, I might feel uncomfortable, and that's okay.
Okay, Buenos swerte! Good luck, and I will talk to you next week. Adios!
Hey, if you love what you're learning, then you've got to check out my free Ultimate Guide to stop people-pleasing, where I teach you a simple five-step process to stop saying yes. When you really want to say No, you'll be so glad that you did. There's a link to the guide in the show notes. I'll see you next time.