The dark side of asking: What if they tell me NO?

A reader inquired how to ask for a raise. She was nervous and didn’t know what to say. It’s totally normal to feel that way, no matter what level you are in your career. Asking for a raise is scary and it’s a request with the potential to get told “no.” But the possibility of a “no” shouldn’t prevent you from making the ask.

I’ve covered in previous blogs the necessity of courage in making an ask. Courage is definitely required. You don’t get to stop there, though. If you are making the kind of asks that I coach women to make, it’s a pretty big, hairy, scary ask. I want you to actually GO FOR THE NO.

Next, after you have the most exhilarating ask crafted, you have to do some soul-searching work to define exactly what will be an acceptable counter offer and what is a no-go for you. When you make a big ask, your goal is to make sure you get the most out of the heart-pounding, stomach-sinking, knee-knocking big ask. I want you to come away knowing that this was a win, even if it was made clear that it’s time to walk away — that you and your audience don’t align.

You must be super clear on what will constitute your yes — the thing you’ll accept that is still aligned to your goals and timeline. If you’ve ever shopped on eBay or been to a live auction, certain items are “reserve.” That means if a minimum bid isn’t met, the item doesn’t get sold. In the same regard, if your minimum requirements can’t be met, you don’t accept the counteroffer. Clearly defining what this looks like for you is key to accessing the courage and confidence you’ll need going into the conversation.

So in the next step of your ask process, courage is required for negotiating. You may get a counter offer. In fact, you SHOULD get a counter offer if you’re following my guidance. Some back and forth should occur at this point to come to a mutually agreeable plan going forward.

Or maybe the best you are offered doesn’t meet your minimum.

If this happens, don’t take it personally.

Think of it as a difference in values — and what you both value — but this is where your preparation and consideration of what is minimally acceptable to you allows you to draw that line in the sand. It’s perfectly OK to say, “No, thanks, I just can’t accept that.” You end up standing up for what’s important to you, which gives you a pretty massive boost in confidence and energy. You do need to have an abundance mentality, though, and know that other opportunities, asks and offers will come your way.

Inquiry: Where do I say yes, when I really mean no? Women, in particular, are notorious for saying yes to too much. Wouldn’t it be great if we all started saying YES to what we really want and NO without feeling guilty?

I know today’s message went deep, detailed and step-by-step, and maybe leaves you feeling a bit naked and afraid.

Like, “That’s great you’re so dang brave, Dia, but that’s not me.”

Asking is just like anything else you want to excel at, though. It takes practice. You can’t expect to become a powerful asker if you don’t take the first step. The desires and goals you have are in your heart and mind for a reason. Do you want to keep living your life ignoring what you truly want? You wouldn’t be here if you did.

If you need more help, you can easily get it with Welcome to the ZOFO where I show you exactly how to quit holding yourself back. You can be ready to rock an ask in just 53 minutes!

You can master asking, even if it seems scary

Daffy Duck has an important lesson to teach you about the art of asking. Let me share an excerpt from Looney Tunes cartoons as an example of how you might feel when asking. The stage is Tina’s workplace, a copy shop, and Daffy Duck wants to ask her to go on a date.

Daffy (No eye contact for approximately infinity): So, uhh, Tina, I was wondering if by any chance you’re not doing anything tonight, which you probably are because you’re not ugly, if for some reason you’re not, would you maybe, possibly, no pressure if you can’t, just wondering, y’know, would you like to go out with me? Maybe. (shy glance towards Tina finally)

Tina: Yeah, I’d love to.

Daffy: Well, you can’t blame a guy for tryin’. (starts to walk away)


Daffy: Really?!

I think that nicely sums up the awkwardness and bumbling inadequacy you may experience when considering something like how to ask for a raise, even if you know with certainty you deserve it. Am I right? Maybe you haven’t put yourself out there with an ask, but feel like you’d be fumbling over words like a cartoon duck if you even tried.

But you don’t have to feel that way AT ALL. You absolutely can master asking for what you want without those feelings. Let me walk you through this.

Three core components are all you need to create powerful outcomes in asking. These key points let you know you are moving toward mastering the art of the ask. From there, you have a success strategy you can use for life.

  1. Have the courage to ask BIG every single time. What I mean by this is asking so big it feels too big. Really, really scary big. Like if you get it, rainbows will shoot out of your ears. The reason I say to do this is twofold. For one, when you ask this way, you don’t have to wonder if you left money on the table. You will know you got as much as you could. Most women I’ve coached lowball themselves like crazy. Let’s put an end to that nonsense right now! Second, the more you can get yourself to do this, the more courageous you can become. It will start to be a part of who you are and you may even start to enjoy asking for things you want.

  2. Have a sense of control going in and coming out of an ask. This means you are steering the conversation. Your hands are on the wheel, not the other person. How great would that be? And what a difference it would make to your confidence if YOU are able to control and guide the conversation instead of the person you are asking. This is a powerful skill.

  3. Speed up your goal-getting. You will know you are gaining mastery of asking when you can tell without a shadow of doubt that your asks are helping you make LARGE leaps forward. Mastery is pretty much the opposite of playing small, so you will be making moves that clearly impact your financial or career trajectory. Mastery also has no room for waffling or procrastinating. Speed is the name of the game!

Now, I realize you likely are not to the point of mastery. We are all on a journey of discovery. I’m sharing this breakdown with you today so that you can develop an understanding of what is involved. You can use this as a measure for reaching your desired outcomes.

Inquiry: Take a moment to consider all three of these mastery elements — courage, control and speed. If you had to choose one, which would serve you most right now? I’d love if you’d share your inquiry result with me on social media.

If you think this sounds good, but you’re still stuck and immobilized, you can get more advanced training from me. My introductory online course, Welcome to the ZOFO: Break Free, Ask Big, is a fast, effective way to get you powered up to break free from your blocks. You can be ready to start asking big in 53 minutes. Check it out.

P.S. What was the lesson Daffy Duck taught you? He got the date. So the takeaway is to push forward and make that ask. You can even do it badly. You might still get what you want.

I spy a need for women to ask for more

Would you like a career catapult? A young woman was able to propel her communications coaching career very early on. She’s since spent years working with amazing leaders, helping them tap into their power and move their businesses forward. She uses a sweet little trick she wants to teach YOU, so you can get more of what you want in your professional life.

Yup, indeed, I’m talking about myself, Dia Bondi.

One of the main takeaways I have learned in communications coaching is that you definitely want to gain clarity around exactly what you want. What’s the precise outcome you desire from a talk, presentation or pitch?

From there, the important question to ponder is: What’s the story that supports that outcome? That’s where my professional focus has been — on the story.

You could sit down with a notebook, pondering those two simple but powerful questions and make great progress already.

And now I’m shifitng my focus to the first question: What do you want?

I want you to understand where I’m coming from and what my motivation is for the new coaching program I’m launching. Most importantly, I want you to see how I can assist you in asking for more and actually getting it if you’re not already doing that in your life right now.

Mission Possible: One Million Empowered Women

Two specific items have led to the birth of this new venture:

1) Have you heard of SheEO?

SheEO is a global community of women radically transforming how we finance, support and celebrate female innovators. Becoming a SheEO Activator powerfully impacted my viewpoint. Activators have one main goal in common: they are women who believe in supporting women. Not only is funding awarded, but the community provides a place to ask for what they need to move their business forward. It quickly became obvious to me how big a role learning to make a direct ask really has on the success of their business.

2) Do I hear a bid for more?

The other incredibly impactful experience for me was attending auctioneering school. 100 cowboys and me in St. Louis; what a thing to do! I’m using this skill to do fundraising for non-profits that support women and girls. In this scenario, again, the very precise outcome is defined: the monetary target we want to reach. The story portion is how we make an appeal that makes sense for the audience to respond the way in which we want.

My precise outcome for the Ask Like An Auctioneer project is to help one million women learn to live on their own terms. The definition of “living on your own terms” varies by individual, but the impact is feeling bold and courageous enough to be able to define your desires and actually make the bold asks that get you there.

Ask yourself: Where do I not ask, where I could, to get closer to my goals?

Now that I’ve got you excited about the possibilities, let me drop disappointing news: The Ask Like An Auctioneer complete coaching program is not ready to launch just yet. Sorry, it’s a work in progress. I am dropping serious value right here on the blog for you to action, though.

If you have a need right now to make an ask, however, and could use help formulating the details, you can jump into my introductory course to get the ball rolling. It’s just 53 jam-packed minutes taking you from scared to ask to bold, courageous and inspired to JUST DO IT.

Check out Break Free, Ask Big now!

Asking like a toddler for amazing impact

I love a toddlers. More than just their little Buddha bellies make them a study in the art of zen. Their curiosity and craving for knowledge is an inspiration. They don’t worry or shy away from confrontation. How so? They honor their own desires wholeheartedly. If it feels important to them, it really is important to them. They do not contemplate. They straight up ask.

As adults, however, the way we often talk about asking is directly opposed to the way we feel about asking. The language you use is powerful, whether it’s uplifting or depressing.

“It doesn’t hurt to ask!” How many times have you heard that?

Really, it doesn’t hurt to ask? That’s a big load of crap! A toddler will pitch a fit if they don’t get what they are asking for because, in a way, yes, it totally does hurt. As adults, we generally don’t feel throwing a tantrum would be an acceptable response, but it may feel warranted. A no is still a big disappointment, even if it’s just asking for candy.

As adults, asking is hard. It’s loaded with potential embarrassment. Getting a no feels like shame or being devalued or, at a minimum, it’s super awkward. So, yes, of course, it can hurt to ask.

Women don’t usually request coaching from me to figure out what they want to ask. Most of the time there’s distinct clarity around what they want. If you’re honest, aren’t you pretty clear on what you want? I thought so. My coaching comes into play to help with figuring out:

“How do I actually ask?”

“How should I phrase it?”

“How do I find the courage to do it?”

The truth is, you really have all the tools you need to make a big ask. Yes, sometimes it’s helpful to have someone in your corner, cheering you on and maybe giving you a gentle jab in the right direction. But you can do it. Like, today you could do it. Here are the steps:

  1. Know what you want

  2. Ask for it

Yes, maybe that’s oversimplified. I’m making it sound too easy, when it’s not. Truthfully, though, that is all you require.

But there is one way in which trying to downplay the process is detrimental. This is another one of those language issues. When you begin the process of asking, do you feel an urge to minimize it, like it’s “oh whatever, doesn’t matter, ho-hum”? You don’t have to do that. In fact, you can own the fact that it matters. Owning it only lends you more control and strength, by being exactly who you are and going 100% for what you want.

I encourage you to strongly consider these three words:

DIGNIFY YOUR DESIRES — just like a toddler. Because that’s what may be missing for you. When you have wants you try to bury, they don’t go away. Those desires are worming their way around your brain, waiting for you to finally acknowledge what you want and deserve. Don’t leave your happiness hanging. You deserve what you want.

Action Item: Journal or contemplate the question, “What is my past experience of asking?”

Now, if you are the type of person who can’t quite seem to make yourself take the toddler-style jump…

…maybe you’d like to feel more prepared,

…or figure out how to be more confident first,

…or make sure your ask is really the right one before making it,

I’d love to help you with all that.

In 53 minutes from now, you can:

  • Get a firm grasp on how to get more of what you want,

  • Know HOW to make your ask, and

  • Understand what’s holding you back so you can move forward.

Jump into the Break Free, Ask Big online course here.

And remember this:

“I always go back to my grandmother’s advice to me…
the first time I fell and hurt myself. She said,
‘Honey, at least falling on your face is a forward movement.’”
—Pat Mitchell, media executive, producer, curator of TEDWomen

The #1 secret to doing big things

On a really hot summer day, a nice dip in the pool can feel incredibly refreshing. But what about that first step?

Where you dip your toe in the water, and it feels UGH, TOO COLD.

You hesitate.

Maybe you sit on the edge for a bit, dipping your feet in, watching the kids act crazy. There’s an elderly woman doing her underwater jog thing, annoyed at the children getting in her way. You can distract yourself for a bit, but you’re still hot, aren’t ya?

You realize you have to take the plunge.

And so you do. And it’s OH SO COLD for a minute.

But then it’s great, isn’t it? Feels invigorating to cool off.

So what did you do to get yourself to take the plunge?

You mustered up a bit of COURAGE. You knew you wouldn’t die. It would only be uncomfortable for a minute, and then you’d be refreshed.

Ladies, the EXACT SAME procedure works for your goals. You will feel hesitant and there will be discomfort. Maybe in the pit of your stomach. But when you make the decision to go for it, you will connect to your inner core of courage that will power you through. You don’t have that, you say? I’m here to tell you that you really do. Courage may be lurking in the background, but it’s ready to step up for you when you require it.

“Being brave is not being unafraid but
feeling the fear and doing it anyway…
When you feel fear, try using it
as a signal that something
really important is about to happen.”
—Gloria Steinem, Co-founder of the Women’s Media Center

Action step: If you need a boost of courage, write out a list of 10 things you’ve accomplished in your life so far. I’m sure you have some truly triumphant moments to reminisce about. Take a bit of time to bask in how that felt. Connect to that energy. And start to feel the “I’ve got this” energy again.

Big Asks require big courage. But big courage does not need to be elusive. Don’t mistake nervousness for a lack of courage.

The simple way to build up your courage is to let the anxious feelings be there, and go ahead with it. If you wait to feel ready, you will be waiting too long.

You don’t have to hold back, be less you or feel shame for wanting more. I think the more we all can learn to ask for what we want, the more we can help pull others up, too.

I hope this was helpful for you today, but this is just a SMALL part of my overall coaching process to help women ask for what they want. You can experience even more connection to your courage in my Break Free, Ask Big course. You can learn:

  • How to quit lowballing yourself

  • How to figure out what stops you

  • Exactly how to break free, even if you feel freaked

Check it out.

I can’t wait to hear what goals you get for yourself!



P.S. Don’t forget to do the action step included in the post today. It’s simple, but effective.