I was on the phone to a friend of mine having a bit of a chat when her son interrupted her to ask her what she wanted for her tea (note to self – must get one of those!!). I heard her reply ‘Oh I don’t mind, surprise me.’ There was a bit of a silence and he said something else which I didn’t quite catch, and she repeated ‘Just surprise me’. I could feel a bit of confusion in the air at her end as her son digested what she’d said and then went off (presumably to the kitchen to surprise her!).
We finished our conversation and afterwards I got to thinking about this conversation I’d overheard with her son. It’s a situation I have seen often, especially with my coaching clients. ‘Oh whatever you think is best.’ ‘Whatever’s easiest for you.’ ‘I don’t mind, anything will suit me.’ ‘Oh you know me, I’m easy.’
In my experience when we as women say these things, we often find that sadly we’re not getting the best out of life. Things that we really want to experience or to have in our life seem to elude us. We work on our inner selves and find ways to share our knowledge and experience, and yet somehow our financial goals seem to elude us. Clients don’t appear. Or the wrong type of clients appear. Our health isn’t as great as it could be. Our spiritual life seems empty. Family life can be stressful. Business stagnates or limps along unevenly.
Thinking back to the conversation with my friend, I so wished that she’d said something like “3 fish fingers, a pile of chips and half a tin of beans please” instead of ‘surprise me’. One day the surprise could be something she really doesn’t like or want – like a double kebab from the dodgy chippie up the road!!
What I have learned – and I love teaching to my ladies – is the importance of actually asking clearly for what we want. In business, if we want a sale, then it’s our job to ask our potential client if they are ready to buy. If we want to go to Paris for our anniversary, then it’s up to us to tell our other half that’s what we’d like.
In this situation, we have got into 3 bad habits. The habit of being vague. The habit of putting others’ needs ahead of our own. The habit of saying what we think the other person wants to hear. We women are so good at getting the consensus view that we often forget it’s ok to ask for what we actually want!
I’ve been really guilty of this myself in the past – and had to learn to stop doing it! I caught myself saying things like ‘I don’t really know’, when actually I knew exactly what I did want but felt embarrassed/afraid/ nervous about saying it! For example when going out for dinner in a restaurant I could go through the menu, decide what starter, main course and pudding I wanted and then order it from the waitress. However when asked what I wanted for a birthday present I would say something like – oh a voucher for X shop please. Not because I really wanted a voucher, but because I thought it would be easy for the other person to buy. And of course if I asked for something specific, they might not get the exact thing I was picturing in my mind, so rather than face the disappointment, I would ask for something they couldn’t get wrong!
What I also discovered was that once I started to get clear about asking for what I wanted, by asking for small things like this, I felt more comfortable about asking for bigger things. I began to see things differently. I began to see my value to other people and how I could help them. I began to see my life starting to move in the direction I had always wanted. People who could help me move forward began showing up. I began to feel able to ask for a good price for my coaching. Opportunities to speak to networks of women began appearing. Word of mouth began to spread about my services. It was magical! And all because… (no, not The Lady Loves Milk Tray – although come to think of it, a man who would dive off a cliff to deliver me a box of chocolates wouldn’t be a bad thing to have in your life!!). All because I got clear about what I wanted – and asked for it.
So how about you? Do you find yourself saying things you don’t mean in order to try and please other people? Do you find yourself agreeing with someone when really you disagree with them heartily, only you don’t want to upset the boat? Perhaps it’s time to change that habit – and watch the life you love flow into your experience. It’s time for clarity, clear requests and cheers of delight as you start to get what you really wish for. After all, there’s a magic wand hiding in your imagination – wave it and see what happens. You could find yourself living the life you want, not the life you settle for…
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