Working with some of the best business people in the game, both men and women, has led me to a conclusion. The difference between successful businesspeople and those who just get by is the ability to ask for and receive what you want. It’s something that so few of us, especially women are willing to do. When it comes to making the ask in business, statistics show that women don’t do it enough.

A study that analyzed the starting salaries of male MBAs versus female, showed that men earn 7.6% or almost $4000 more than their female counterparts on average. It was shown that most of the women had simply accepted the employer’s initial salary offer and only 7% attempted to negotiate. Men were eight times more likely to ask for more as opposed to women.

Here are the top reasons why we’re not asking:

  • We feel like we are being a bother to the other person.  
  • We are afraid of hearing “No.”
  • We don’t want to appear too aggressive or worse, selfish.

And here’s what is happening as a result:

  • We are getting paid way less money.
  • We are settling for smaller pieces of the pie.
  • Our businesses do not excel at the same rate as men

We have to do better.

I must also acknowledge the hidden barriers at work that stop us from asking. Since birth, girls are not taught to advocate for themselves and often place the needs of others in front of their own needs. We also fear being perceived as bitchy or too pushy.

It is time that we shift this paradigm. There are women in business who have nailed the art of asking for what they want and as a result, experience a level of success that few of us achieve. It is not they do not hear “No” from time to time, but from my conversation with these women, some of the keys to their success was that they had learned to stop taking things personally, developed resiliency, and a thick skin to not let themselves be deterred. This comes from consistently taking action outside of your comfort zone. It’s about overriding that inner voice that tells you to stay silent.

As someone who used to be a non-asker and have since tossed that behavior to the side, here’s what I now teach women about asking for what you want:

  1. Be direct, just ask. No need to justify or rationalize your request. Be mindful of being passive or appearing insecure when you ask. Build confidence in asking by scripting out what you want to say and practicing out loud in front of a mirror.
  2. Consider that the person you are asking will benefit from the request as well. Generally speaking, when someone is in the position to help you and are happy to do it, your not asking denies them the joy of being of service.
  3. If you hear  “No,” don’t take it personal. Rejection is not about you. Consider that a No means it was not a good fit. Let it motivate you to reflect and refine.
  4. Ask for more. Asking for more can increase your income

Remember, everything you want (new business, more clients, new job, more money!) is on the other side of that ask.  

Asking takes practice. What will you ask for today?


Ariane Hunter is the business & leadership coach for career conscious women. She charted her own unconventional career path and helps others to successfully design their own using a blend of modern advice and unconventional wisdom. You can connect with her via Project She Went For Her Dreams, share her musings on Instagram or follow her on Twitter.