The Power of Speaking Up
Last month, my boyfriend and I took a weekend trip to Seattle to celebrate our anniversary. We got a great deal on a hotel using a discount app. We'd stayed at this hotel before, and the view was gorgeous. We checked in, unloaded our bags, and pulled back the curtains, preparing to take in Seattle's beautiful skyline, which we'd flown a thousand miles to see. Lo and behold, the parking lot.
This post originally appeared on GetRichSlowly.
A man getting into his car looked up at us, startled.
"Eh," I said. "We didn't come here to hang out at the hotel."
"Yeah, but I want a view," Brian said, drawing the curtains. "The parking lot? C'mon."
He vowed to talk to someone at the front desk and see how much it would cost to get a better room. We were surprised when the hotel receptionist said it would be no problem to upgrade us free of charge. There was no hesitation. It was the easiest upgrade I've ever gotten. We went up to our new room, opened the curtains, and took in a nice nighttime view of the Space Needle.
This experience reminded me of just how effective speaking up can be. I've always struggled with speaking up for myself. But the more I see how speaking up can get you discounts, upgrades, necessary help, jobs, etc., the more I'm trying to master it.
Why Speaking Up Was Hard for Me
I grew up learning to be very independent and self-sufficient, and it took me a while to understand the cliche: the squeaky wheel
That cliche began to make the most sense when I entered the working world. My outspoken co-workers would get the projects I wanted just because they made sure it was known that they wanted those projects. Luckily, my boss was nurturing. She recognized my meekness and encouraged me to speak up when I wanted something. I realized I was embarrassed to ask for things. I felt like if I had the guts to ask for a project, it meant I was full of myself, and that was embarrassing to me. (Weird, I know. I guess I had an odd cultural upbringing.) When I had to ask for help in school, I always felt it meant I wasn't smart and couldn't handle things on my own. As an adult, that embarrassment turned into feeling like I was just being a nuisance.
Lack of Confidence
It took me a while to ask for a raise or promotion
It hurts to confess this, but when I was a financial mess, I also stupidly fell for a free credit score scam. The company charged my card an unauthorized $14.99 fee. After researching the scam online, I knew if I called my credit card company
Speaking Up in Action
It's still hard sometimes, but I've learned to speak up for myself a lot more these days. And it's been really effective in saving me money, or even helping me to earn more money. The other day, I randomly called mycell phone provider
The customer service rep said, "Sure, we can waive that."
Well, that was easy! By just asking, I was able to lower my phone bill by $15 a month. "Just asking" is one of the simplest but most effective money hacks I've come across. And the more I see how effective it can be, the less shy I become about speaking up.
But, of course, there are a few things to keep in mind for better results:
Pretty simple. I think people are more apt to offer help when someone is kind. Sure, customers who raise hell might get what they want, and being too nice can certainly work against you. But I've been nasty to customer service reps, and then I've been patient and kind to them. I've learned that, most of the time, nice usually trumps nasty. Since making it a point to be nicer and more understanding, I've found that mycustomer service
I've found that it usually helps, when asking for something, to remind people that you're human. When arguing for a raise, I reminded my boss that my financial situation was suffering due to inflation-rent increases and the like. When calling my internet company about their price hikes, I reminded them that I don't have the money to pay for such a huge increase. "Times are tough," I told the rep.
She sighed, "Yeah, I understand."
It took some work, but I was able to get an even better deal on my internet because of some special promo or whatever they had going on.
Sometimes, however, it ain't easy. While I wouldn't be annoyinglypersistent
Of course, there's a difference between asking for something appropriate and then asking for a handout. And this is kind of what I struggle with. Blatantly asking for a free flight upgrade, for example, seems so embarrassing, yet I still want to try it, because others have said it works. And then I've met people who aren't afraid to "just ask" for damn near everything, to the point that their irreverence borders on cheapskate. When I'm asking for help or for a discount or something, I try to imagine how the other party feels when I'm speaking up-will they feel put out or taken advantage of? If so, then I think twice about asking.
The power of speaking up | GetRichSlowly
Kristin Wong is a freelance blogger who frequently writes about relationships for MSN's The Heart Beat blog. After paying off her student loan debt, Kristin decided it was time to pursue her dream and also put her English degree to use. She scrimped, saved, and in 2010, left her hometown of Houston, Texas to pursue a writing career in Los Angeles. Since then, she has written for television, web, and occasionally, sketch comedy. When she's not attached to her laptop, Kristin enjoys baking, amateur gardening, listening to 60s rock and exploring her city.
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