Learn the skills for asking in a way that others can hear non-defensively. Do you fear how others will respond to you if you ask for what you want? Or do you have a history of others reacting strongly to you asking for what you want? If you answered yes to either of these, look at how you deliver your message. You might be missing some key phrases or skills that allow you to ask without pushing other people's buttons.
The skill of asking for what you want is very much a "learnable" skill! For example, a simple and effective way of asking someone to do something in a neutral or non-offensive way (for example, to stop smoking in your presence, or to stop making hurtful comments to you) is to simply say, "I ask that you.... (followed by what you want to ask for). For the above example, it would sound like "I ask that you stop making comments about my weight". Period. You don't need to launch into a long explanation about why it's hurtful and become overly emotional and descriptive.... this can cause the message to get lost. Just simply state your request.
Find an effective communiation book, perhaps one on boundaries or assertive communication skills, take a class on communication, or find a good therapist who can help you learn this skill if you are struggling. Sometimes it's a lot more difficult than it seems!
The bottom line is that being able to ask for what you want in a way that is effective (and increases the chances you will get it), is a very important life skill. It requires that you know what you want and need, feel comfortable acknowledging and articulating it. If you don't learn how to do this, you will become (or continue to be) a doormat to others, allowing them to control your life and causing you unhappiness. As we share with clients, the only way people can walk all over you if if you lay down and allow them to do it... so start learning how to ask for what you want today!
Joleen Watson, MS, NCC, is a therapist at Imagine Hope Counseling Group. She enjoys doing marriage counseling, relationship counseling, couples counseling, and individual counseling. Imagine Hope also specializes in family, child and adolescent counseling and serves Indianapolis area including the surrounding areas of Carmel, Noblesville, Zionsville, Westfield, and Fishers.