Lisa Gates | The Terribly Beautiful Trouble with Wanting and Asking

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Lisa Gates is the founder of The Daily Thrive (, an online learning community for women launching today, January 30th, from the folks who brought you She Negotiates (; she is also a regular contributor at Forbes Woman.  Lisa and her team are a bit obsessed with finding a fit for your life that is not only doable, but sustainable is their mission. Her special topic is negotiation and her life's work is to help women get better at it so the real work of dreaming can happen.


Asking for stuff spells trouble. Terrible trouble. Think jobs, promotions, sabbaticals, a homemade cake for your birthday, a pink Cadillac, anything. The terrible trouble is that when ask for stuff, you will not only find yourself agreeing and committing to things, but you might be asked to reciprocate in some way. In other words, you will end up causing yourself to be responsible for the relationship you create by asking.

The question, “Will you marry me,” comes to mind. You ask, and suddenly you are committing to—and responsible for—purple taffeta for the bridesmaids and tighty-whitey Hanes in the laundry and in-law meddling and mewling infants and adolescent car wrecks and suddenly you’re 49 and wondering, “How, how did I get here? This is not my beautiful life.”

Or you give your resume to Google. You put your hat in the ring for the Coordinator of Chaos, and they offer you $100K and you roll over with a “sounds great” (agreement) and shortly you realize your real title is “The Butt of Everything” and you’re mad.

You could have just “let the days go by” with nary a desire, and all would be well. You’d be single, living in your condo or cardboard box, strumming your ukulele on the corner or working at Starbucks with no questions asked.

But sheez, you had to go and WANT something. Not only the thing itself, but also the stuff the thing comes with, like happiness, livelihood, respect and social capital.

Well. Hmmm. Our Buddhist friends will tell you that desire is the root of all pain. Paradoxically, our Buddhist friends also will tell you if you want to evolve, get in a relationship.

You see, asking, negotiating, requires relationship and consciousness—the two things that push our stasis buttons into quandary. That said, women are great at creating relationship, and we’re pretty darned willing to be conscious about them. Aware. Mindful of the needs of others.

So what we’re talking about here is the kind of asking that requires you to give as good as you get, and that’s what interest-based negotiation is all about. It’s the kind of asking that thrives on reciprocity and relationship. And it puts your collective wants, needs, desires, preferences and, yes, dreams in the center of a big buffet table of possibility. Together, you and your negotiation partner, sit down to feast on the choices that make you both immensely happy.

You could wend your way through life never really asking for a thing. You could avoid asking your spouse for one holiday without the in-laws. You could avoid the terrible pain of asking Google to review your title and salary. But resentment just isn’t your style. Happiness is.

So girl up and start wanting.

What happens when you ask?

"When we ask we find ourselves responsible for the relationship we create by asking." — I like this.

P.S.  This is the same Lisa Gates from whom I took a negotiating course.  If is anything like She Negotiates, you're in for a whole lotta of thriving; also on the team is @Chrysula who guest blogged here.

P.P.S.  Lisa's husband is a grip for the television show The Mentalist.  Yes, I know — pretty cool.

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