The next time you sit down to talk to someone in a professional setting, remind yourself that that person wants something. There’s a reason they are sitting across from you. Their reason may even be that they want to help you. But they have their own separate motivations and agenda.
It’s so easy to get tied up in what YOU want that you forget altogether that the person with whom your speaking has an agenda, has wants, has needs, has motivations.
I find that remembering this actually makes it easier, not harder, to ask for things. It allows you to say, “You and I are both here for a reason, and if we have a good meeting we will get something done – something will happen as the result of our conversation. This means that I don’t have to pretend that I’m talking with you just to make conversation.”
In fact, I think it’s a great show of respect – of people’s time, their worth, their value – to be clear and upfront that there’s a reason you are meeting with them.
This isn’t to say that there isn’t an art to asking for things. There is. But it’s so easy to talk yourself out of making that ask that it helps to remember that the person to whom you’re speaking wants something too.