My first freelance writing project was a simple five page website for an old boss. Although a few other writers had given me a price range to shoot for, I still asked for $10/hr less than they recommended. I was not confident enough to ask for what I knew I deserved. To make matters worse, I later found out that my client would have paid $20/hr more for the work.
That day, fear cost me $180.
And looking back on it, what is the worst that could have happened if I had asked for more money? The client would have simply said, “that’s too much” and counter offered. There is no scenario in which I would have been worse off than I ended up. I shot myself in the foot because I wasn’t confident. I let fear win.
Asking for money is especially difficult, but I find that asking for things in general can be stressful – I don’t want to bother or annoy anyone. Here’s a short list of things I’m too afraid to ask for:
- Help moving furniture or heavy objects
- Books that I have loaned but have not yet been returned
- Use of a multipurpose space in my apartment complex for my upcoming workshop
- A raise or promotion at work
- A decrease on my phone or internet bill (even though EVERYONE knows if you threaten to switch companies you’ll lower your rate)
Most of the time, we (myself included) just wait around hoping people notice us, wishing things would fall into our laps.
We want the best improvisers to ask us to play on their team because we’re funny, when we should be asking them to play with us. We want our boss to give us a raise because we work hard, when we should be asking him or her for a raise. We want people to notice us and give us things because we’re special, when we should be proving our worth and asking for something in return.
Perhaps it’s because, as improvisers, we’ve been trained not to ask questions. Anyone who has made it past level one knows not to ask their scene partner, “who are you” or “what are you doing” or “can you help me with this.” We have the power to name those things ourselves and anticipate our scene partner’s response. There are no wrong answers because our scene partner will simply “YES AND” our offer.
So why not carry this confidence into the questions we ask in real life, assuming that our real
life “scene partner” will “YES AND” our real life offers?
Two weeks ago, I hesitantly sent an email to Jimmy Carrane, the host of Improv Nerd, asking him to do an interview for my blog. Shockingly, he not only said yes, but also said he “felt humbled by my invitation.” And while I obviously want my blog to be so popular that Jimmy Carrane would ask to be interviewed, that’s incredibly unrealistic. I was shocked and humbled that he said yes. I never would have gotten that interview if I hadn’t been brave enough to ask, running with the assumption that he would “YES AND” me.
People want to help you. People want to “YES AND” your offers. People want to give you an extra $180 for the stuff you were going to do anyway. You just have to treat real life like the improv stage – step out confidently and make your offer without hesitation, as if there are no wrong answers.
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