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So once you recognize what you would like to ask for - how do you ask? Here are five different ways.

1)  Bare Bones Ask where you ask directly for what you want. Research shows this is best used with a person who is goal-oriented, speaks directly and values assertiveness.

2)  "Planting the Seed" Questions is a type of questioning that can put ideas into the other person's mind; perhaps even let them see a situation differently. It is indirect and can involve appearing to ask for advice. It works well with competitive managers who then believe they have thought of the idea, however, be careful that they don't think that such questions indicate a lack of knowledge or experience. Examples of such questions include: Have you considered…? What do you think of…? Have you thought of…?

3)  Co-Creative Asking. This type of asking allows both parties to find out what is important to each other and to come to an agreement based on those interests. It is best used with a collaborative supervisor. Help me to understand what you would like in this situation…  Perhaps we can come up with a solution that works for both of us… That is one option, what about some others?…Maybe between the two of us we can work something out.

4)  Framing allows you to put your request in a positive way5. So instead of saying "I'm the best person for the job and I've earned it" you might say "I've learned so much in this job and I'd love a chance to do more. I'm ready to move to the next level." Or "I am sure I could contribute more if I had more responsibility. Can we talk about what's next for me? I'd like to be promoted."

5)  Building a Golden Bridge is a communication technique similar to Framing in that the tone of the request is positive, however, with this ask the underlying intent is to connect with the person before making the specific request or asking the specific question. In this way you acknowledge the perspective of the other person, and his or her interests and concern. Phrases that bridge include: I appreciate your taking this time to discuss this issue with me at such a busy time…  I can see that you are in a tight spot with this file…  This must be very frustrating for you.

So start looking around for opportunities to ask and try out different ways to ask. Make them small ones at first and do it your way - make the ask authentic. Perhaps you are already using different types of asks. The more you practice the more easier it becomes.

5 Taken from L. Babcock and S. Laschever "ask for it" 2008, Bantam Dell, New York at p. 259.

Delee Fromm Photo
DELEE FROMM, who is both a lawyer and a psychologist, has taught and coached to critical acclaim for over 25 years. Due to her extensive experience as a lawyer she provides services to law firms in Canada and the US, to a vast array of Canadian legal organizations, and to both the Ontario and federal government. A large component of her business involves women`s advancement programming.

She is a recognized leading expert in the arena of negotiation and has designed and facilitated workshops on leadership, negotiation and communication for international corporations, banks and organizations. She is an expert with the Negotiation Institute in New York and is a coach with the Law Society of Upper Canada's career coaching program for women lawyers.

Delee is a former partner of a large Toronto law firm where she practised commercial real estate for 17 years. Prior to her career in law she was a neuropsychologist at a large psychiatric hospital. She is a faculty member of the LL.M. program in Alternative Dispute Resolution at Osgoode Professional Development, and is a guest lecturer at both York University and the University of Toronto on the topics of negotiation and gender dynamics.

For more information, please go to her website at and her profile on LinkedIn


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Copyright © 2013 Delee Fromm
Copyright ©   2013  The Negotiator Magazine
The Negotiator Magazine  May 2013