It's only by asking for what you want that you can feel known, seen and heard in each of your relationships. Are you speaking up enough to make sure your hopes, desires, wants and needs get represented? Both at home and at work, it's important to identify what you really want and ask for it. Most people don't. It's more common that individuals don't take time to consider what they want, or are hesitant to ask for it. We can end up frustrated because we aren't getting our true needs or desires met.

Assertively asking for what you want takes bravery. This is especially true for women, as we are often socialized to strive for the self-sacrificing, people-pleasing feminine archetype. In many families, girls are still raised to defer to the needs of others in order to achieve becoming the nurturing, loving person that mothers and grandmothers may have modeled.

There are three ways to approach getting your needs met: being aggressive, passive or assertive.

If we act aggressively, we demand what we want from others. While this approach may work, it's likely that others will resent us. We may get loud or intrusive with others to extort our needs. Aggressive people can use threats or intimidation. While this method may sometimes be effective at the moment, it's likely to erode your relationship with the other person who begins to see you as a bully.

If we take a passive approach, we don't realize our own desires or we don't express them to others. This might occur because we are afraid of risking and getting a "no" from the other person. We may feel afraid that the other person will reject us if we express our preferences. Being passive can lead to feeling depressed and unsatisfied. A passive approach can lead to collecting regrets about how our career or relationships are progressing. Unexpressed needs in our closest relationships can make us feel we are not fully known, and perhaps not even in the right relationship.

Acting assertively means that you take time to deeply consider your own desires, and you artfully ask for them. The other person is likely to respect us more for asking. Asking directly doesn't give you a guarantee that you will get what you want, but it greatly increases the odds on your side. Remember that no one reads your mind, or can accurately intuit your needs. You are likely to feel more positively about yourself for asking for what you want. It will increase your self-esteem and help you become your authentic self. If the other person says no to your request, at least you are no further back than if you hadn't asked.

What is the enlightened art of asking?

!. Choose a good, quiet time to ask when you are alone with the other person.

2.. Making polite requests. Be specific. When you do this, it empowers the other person to also ask things of you. You could ask your partner to take turns with you planning date nights every other Saturday. You could ask your children to put their backpacks away right when they get home. You could ask your supervisor for the ability to initiate a new project that you would find interesting.

3. In personal relationships (not work), preface by letting the other person know it is okay if they need to say no, but you'd like to ask for something.

4. Thank the other person for listening and considering your request, whether or not they are willing to grant your request. Be sincere.

Learning the art of asking is important in creating the life, relationships and work life that you want. It is one of the necessary skills for communicating clearly and directly with others. It will be helpful to you in beginning to feel that you are living the life you want to be living. If we fail to be assertive, we are not living as fully as possible. It's not likely that even a sensitive partner, boss or friend will ever read your mind. Practice the healthy habit of taking the risk to ask. In this way, you allow yourself to be more fully alive and more fully known. Your openness will also help encourage those you are in a relationship with to also ask for what they need or want from you. The end result can be a relationship that is more alive, dynamic and satisfying for both people.