To Be Happy At Work Ask For What You Need

Cindy was a new manager in a mid-sized company.   She had worked for years for a manager who had discussed strategies with her and encouraged her to try new things.  He had given her constant feedback and approval.  She was engaged and happy at work.

When her manager got promoted Cindy was promoted to her manager’s job.   After about six months in her new job Cindy was ready to look for another job.  What was missing?  Cindy missed the feedback and acknowledgement she received from her previous manager.

Her new manager was only interested in her results and left Cindy to find her own strategies.  In our coaching session Cindy said that she thought she needed acknowledgement and praise to do her best work.

What do you need to do your best work?  How do you get to be happy at work?  Everyone has emotional or personal needs as well as physical needs (food, clothing, shelter etc.).  Somehow it’s acceptable to ask for food when we are hungry but asking for acknowledgement and praise when we work is somehow embarrassing.

Need for Acknowledgement

Cindy asked me, “Shouldn’t my manager know to do this?  Why do I have to ask her?”   Perhaps she should but why not help her if she does not.   Since Cindy is very capable, it is possible her boss thinks she is getting all the satisfaction she needs out of doing a great job.

One of the best ways to get what you need is to ask for it.  Whether it is your husband/wife, friend, or manager it is important to realize that everyone is different.  What is important to you may not be important to them.  If they care about you however they will want to help you so you can be happy at work.

Practice the words before you make your pitch.  You won’t want to sound whiney or needy.  How about, “I really want to do a good job on this project.  One way you could help me is to give me ongoing feedback.  I especially appreciate it when you let me know that you really like what I have done because it helps energize me.”

Need to Make More Money

Not all needs are emotional needs.  Debby was a piano teacher with a very busy business.  She came to me because she was struggling to make ends meet.

What Debby needed was more money!  Since she kept her expenses in check the only way to make more was to raise her fees. Asking her students for more money made her very uncomfortable.  She was sure she would lose students.

This was a possibility of course but she knew also that she could not stay in the business doing what she was doing.  Debby wrote to each student asking for an increase of 25%.  To her amazement she only lost one student in the process and then was able to add a new one immediately from her waiting list.

Satisfying Needs is Important

Unsatisfied needs get in the way of our feeling satisfied and happy at work.  Identifying our needs is the first step in the process.

In my practice I use an assessment called the Needless Program to help my clients identify their personal needs.

Another way to identify needs is to sit in a quiet place and ask yourself what you really need to have a happy and fulfilling life.  The next step is to get those needs met – Ask for help!

Take Action

1.   Identify your needs. Take a half an hour to write down all the things you need to feel happy.

2.   Continue identifying your needs by using the Needless Program.  You can find this program on my website.

3.   Look at your lists and prioritize the needs.  Work on the 2 or 3 that are your highest priority first.

4.   Who do you need to ask to help you get your needs met?  A friend? A spouse? A coach? The Universe?

5.   If you want help from a coach, I would be delighted to work with you.  Please call me at 781-598-0388 or email me at



2 Responses to “To Be Happy At Work Ask For What You Need

  • Thanks for the comment, Larry! You are right. Asking for the “sale” is often hard for people. Keeping in mind that everyone will benefit when you get what you need helps you to ask. In both my examples the person asked for something that allowed her to give “outstanding service” as you say. The same would be true when a professional asks for the business and delivers good service. Everyone is happy!

  • lawyer larry
    13 years ago

    Congratulations on your blog. Happy at Work. Your articles in recent months have had good ideas about this theme. Asking for what you need as you point out is not always easy. Even for lawyers who are assertive by nature. Asking for yourself is a different tune, but one that you have one can sing if you have something good to give in return — like outstanding service, you need not have qualms — as in asking for business. Larry