Having the confidence to ask for what your want and articulating your case in a compelling manner are key to getting on in all parts of your life both inside and outside of work. Sometimes we talk ourselves out of asking for things whether it be a concern over damaging relationships, a lack of belief that we don’t deserve it or a fear of asking for a more challenging role in case we fail.

Obviously the best way of improving any skill is to take every opportunity you get to practice it. Speaking up and asking for things and watching and learning from those around you who are skilled at it all can help you improve. Finding someone whose ability you admire and watching them in action and speaking to them about how they approach it can give you an insight in to a totally different way of thinking and take the fear out of it. It’s something I’ve certainly found worked for me when improving my presenting skills.

I’m currently changing my mindset to speak up more for what I want. To supplement the approach of learning described above I was interesting in finding a good book on the topic of asking. On my search I found Selena Rezvani’s book pushback. Having taken a look at Selena’s site and listened to her speak about it on youtube I decided to pick up a copy and so far I haven’t been disappointed.It’s a book packed full of exercises that make you stop, think about how you’re currently doing things and challenge whether that’s the right approach.

The first chapter focuses on the importance of asking and that it is a skill that can be taught. It also looks at why we, in particular women, sometimes struggle with it. It highlights the cost of not asking which I think is one of the best motivators for speaking up. Sometimes we become so focused on the risk with asking that we forget the cost and frustrations of not.

She also talks about self-advocacy which is so important in getting on. Good work doesn’t guarantee rewards. People need to be aware of that work, they need to be aware of your drive and aspirations in order to realise that you are the right person for that next big project. You can’t assume that they know.

I like the fact that the book recognises people have different strengths and that you can make other qualities such as being collaborative, team centric and having emotional intelligence work for you in negotiation. Negotiations don’t have to be something you view as a fight or difficult.

The following chapters take a look at finding the negotiation style for you, the four stages of negotiation (preparing psychologically, doing your homework, the conversation and follow-up) before finishing with how you can pushback in your career.

I’m going to put together a few more posts summarising what I’ve learnt from this book as I think it has some interesting points and techniques that would make good reading and discussion so watch this space.