How To Ask Your Boss for Something: 14 Tips

If you want or need to request something from your supervisor, here are some tips that might help:
  1. Identify your goals. …
  2. Be flexible. …
  3. Remember your company’s mission. …
  4. Practice active listening. …
  5. Be mindful of body language. …
  6. Ask questions. …
  7. Know your audience. …
  8. Name your concerns.

Your boss is the only obstacle between you and your next pay raise or promotion. Your direct manager has the power to approve or reject your opportunity for advancement, even though other members of the leadership team and even your peers may have some say in the matter. But you have to ask for what you want in order to get it.

A female executive approached me after my recent speech at a conference in New York to seek my opinion on the matter. Although she was about to be promoted to the C-suite, she explained that her family’s situation with three children had many demands. She was unsure if she could continue to be a strong professional and parent while also taking on higher-level responsibilities. She confided in me that she was going to leave both her job and her company later that month. My point was that when it comes to your career, whether it involves a promotion, a raise, or another goal, it doesn’t have to be all or nothing — if you learn how to identify what you want. So I asked her, “Did you consider going to your boss and directly asking for what you wanted — maybe some additional time off or even going part-time for a while — to facilitate your ability to accept the promotion while still making more time for family?”

Asking your superior for something crucial to your career advancement may initially make you feel vulnerable, but mustering the courage to do so actually shows strength. If you don’t ask your boss directly for what you want—more money, a better position, more visibility, more resources, or more time off—you probably won’t get it. Furthermore, a lot of employers expect you to ask for what you want up front in order to advance in pay, position, or preferences. Asking demonstrates both self-assurance and respect for your boss by indicating that you’re looking for assistance rather than just anticipating it.

Avoid assumptions by asking the right questions. In order to negotiate successfully, you must not only be willing to ask for what you want, but also strategically approach your “ask.” One-dimensionally approaching negotiations and concentrating only on your own desired results is a bad strategy. Instead, you ought to adopt a cooperative strategy, creating a crystal-clear link between your boss’s worries and your request. The most effective way to accomplish this is to get ready to ask your boss a few open-ended inquiries about their worldview. Be curious about how to make your request a win-win when coming up with these inquiries. Try using expressions that suggest shared success, for instance:

Gather context through open dialogue. You can come up with a better plan of action if you directly ask your manager about the situation before you ask for what you want. Open a dialogue that is focused on the particular issues you intend to discuss in the near future. For instance, if you’re aiming for a promotion, you might pose the following query:

This kind of query may allow your boss to divulge crucial details that will help you in subsequent negotiations. For instance, your boss might inform you that there is currently a promotion freeze but that there is a possibility to explore it in six months. As a result, you’ll be able to change tactics and ask for something else or raise other questions to help you gather the information you need to increase your chances of getting what you want down the road. In this situation, you’ll know that the timing is wrong to negotiate for a promotion right now. For example, some questions you might next ask include:

Use “what if” responses. Have some “what if” answers prepared in order to build on your boss’s responses during the open dialogue stage. When your boss makes a general suggestion, “what if” responses give you a way to advance the conversation by outlining specific actions that you might take. As an illustration, if your boss tells you that you need more cross-functional experience before you can advance, you could respond with a specific plan you could use to obtain that experience, like:

Let the conversation evolve. Even if you execute a flawless ask, your boss may still turn down your request due to unavoidable circumstances. Avoid becoming so focused on achieving your ultimate objective that you neglect to consider other options. As the conversation progresses, keep an eye out for any workable fallbacks. Even if you receive a “no” in response to your initial request, you can still come out of the negotiation with a minor victory that could lead to a future “yes.” Your objective should be to keep yourself out of a situation where the answer is a definitive “no. ”.

You could change the subject and ask for an additional week of vacation, more job flexibility, a benefit option, or paid continuing education in a field that advances your career goals if your boss declines your request for a salary increase despite evidence from internal and external market research that you deserve one.

There is power in just getting past your nerves and talking to your boss about what you want, regardless of your perceived level of negotiation expertise or the approach you take. By doing this, you’ll start to increase your confidence and skill level, putting you in a position to negotiate in the future.

How to Ask Your Boss for Something and Get a Resounding YES – 3 Step Framework

Why should you consider how to ask your boss for something?

Making progress in your career may require you to have the ability to ask your boss for something. If you do it well, you can succeed in your current position and, if you so choose, make a good impression when it’s time to look for a new job. Knowing how to ask for something from a superior can also demonstrate your strong interpersonal skills, as many supervisors place a high value on communication skills.

Tips for making a request of a supervisor

Here are some suggestions that may be useful if you need to ask your supervisor for something:

Identify your goals

Before speaking with your supervisor, having a clear understanding of your objectives can help you make a more compelling case for your request. Consider brainstorming your goals and writing down notes. If it makes sense for your situation, you may also decide to speak with a dependable mentor about your strategy.

Be flexible

When you request something from your boss, try to be accommodating. Consider one of these alternatives if, for instance, there are multiple options that might be effective and satisfy both your needs and those of your business. A willingness to engage in dialogue that is more beneficial to both parties could also be fostered.

Remember your companys mission

It might be more persuasive to frame your request as a benefit to your business. Try going over your company’s mission statement and considering concrete ways your request could contribute to achieving those objectives. Take into account using language that is similar to the words and phrases in your company’s mission statement.

Practice active listening

When making a request, active listening can be a helpful strategy for connecting with your audience. This means listening to the other person’s ideas and making sure you understand them completely before offering your own ideas. Making the speaker feel heard through affirmations and nonverbal cues like nodding and leaning in their direction may increase their likelihood of granting your request.

Be mindful of body language

Body language can help you persuade your supervisor if you are presenting your request in person. Using good posture can help project confidence, for example. The openness and good will that can be conveyed by a wide stance and uncrossed arms may also be helpful to your request.

Ask questions

It’s possible that your supervisor will say something along the lines of “not yet” in response to your request. Asking clarifying questions will help you figure out how to move closer to getting what you want. Consider posing inquiries about potential alternatives or fixes that would get you closer to your goal.

Know your audience

Different persuasive techniques may be well received by various supervisors. When making your request, be sure to take your supervisor’s communication preferences and style into account. For instance, you might want to schedule a meeting with your supervisor and bring an outline of your main points if they prefer formal dialogue. You may decide to start an impromptu conversation if your boss prefers casual conversation. Being aware of your audience’s preferences can be an effective way to demonstrate consideration, which may encourage them to comply with your request.

Name your concerns

It is normal to feel anxious or even afraid when asking your supervisor for something. By naming your worries, you can increase your sense of power and take action to boost your confidence. For instance, you might be concerned that your boss will reject your request. Perhaps putting this worry into words as “fear of rejection” will enable you to transform that fear into an opportunity. If your supervisor rejects your request, what will happen? and what would be your next course of action?

Leverage reciprocity

People frequently feel compelled to repay favors and show kindness to those who have done so first. This tendency is called reciprocity. By outlining your accomplishments and the ways you have helped the company before making your request, you can use reciprocity to your advantage.

Consider the anchoring effect

People frequently recall the first bit of information they hear more easily than the subsequent information. As a result of retention being “anchored” to that first detail, this phenomenon is sometimes referred to as the “anchoring effect.” You can take advantage of this psychological trend by making your most compelling argument or pressing request first. For instance, you might start salary discussions by asking for the highest salary you feel comfortable accepting or by highlighting a recent professional achievement.

Use rhetorical strategies

Persuasive speaking and writing is also known as rhetoric. Utilizing rhetoric frequently involves using emotional appeals, logical arguments, and appeals to credibility. Here are some examples of how you could ask your boss for something while utilizing these techniques:

Depending on your supervisor’s personality, you might be able to convince them of your request if you use emotion. For instance, using tasteful humor could help put your supervisor in a good mood if they prefer somewhat informal communication, which could positively affect your request.

Logic-based arguments are frequently successful in business settings as well. Think about citing facts and figures to support your claim that your request will be advantageous to both you and the company.

Establishing your credibility and dependability can be beneficial when you need to make a request of your manager. When making your request, think about subtly mentioning your qualifications or credentials. Speaking clearly can increase your chances of success and establish your credibility.


How do you professionally ask for something at work?

Follow these simple tips to make sure you get exactly what you want when you make a request in English.
  1. Don’t demand. Always remember that people dislike being given orders, so refrain from asking for things in an imperative style.
  2. Eliminate “I need” …
  3. Avoid assumption. …
  4. Steer clear of accusations. …
  5. Try a second time.

How do I ask my boss for something in an email?

Follow these steps to assist you in writing an email to your supervisor:
  1. Decide on your reason for writing the email. …
  2. Add a relevant subject line. …
  3. Include a greeting. …
  4. State your reason for the email. …
  5. Provide an explanation. …
  6. List actions you need your supervisor to complete. …
  7. Add a closing. …
  8. Include a signature.

How do you talk to your boss about a request?

List of Good Communication Methods to Talk With a Boss
  1. Ask for a Private Meeting. Request a private meeting with your boss whenever you need to discuss something important with him in person.
  2. Give a Presentation. …
  3. Don’t Forget Non-Verbal Communication. …
  4. Send an Email.

How do I ask my boss a favor?

  1. Be Direct. I have a favor to ask you. …
  2. Offer a Compliment. There’s a reason why you’re asking this specific person.
  3. Don’t Procrastinate. Being asked for a favor is one thing.
  4. Offer an Opt-Out. …
  5. Be Prepared to Reciprocate.

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