Readers of my blog post on Risk vs. Safety implored me to edit the post. They assured me that it is indeed risky to ask for things at work. “You could get fired,” my mom told me.

That’s fear talking. It’s not the way things work in the real world. If you have a job, it’s because you’re solving a problem for the business that employs you. If you have a client, it’s because you’re solving a problem for the client who hired you. When you ask for something, the chances of getting it are directly related to the number of problems you solve.

Are you a receptionist who is infinitely more dependable than any receptionist the firm has ever had? You’re a problem-solver. Are you an attorney who unravels problems that lesser lawyers create? You’re a problem-solver.  Do you figure out the glitch in the computer code before the product goes into production? You’re a problem-solver.

Problem-solving is worth something to your employer or client. It’s also currency for you to improve your situation.

“Yes,” my mom agreed. But then she insisted, “But then they might not like you anymore.”

True. They might not. But here’s the thing: they might not like you already. The more we worry about whether others like us, the less likable we are. We tend to like and respect people who are genuine and stand up for themselves.

But even if they ”don’t like you” after you ask for something, they’ll get over it, because It’s not really about you. What they don’t like is that they were getting a terrific deal or a bargain, and you just leveled the transaction a little. No one likes having their cheese taken away, even if they’ve been getting more of the cheese than is fair. But once they’re over the initial pout, they adjust and everyone moves on.

The first time I made a big move in my income, I was working for a hedge fund that would occasionally hire me out to work for other hedge funds for a week or two at a time. I saw what my employer was charging for my services relative to what they were paying me, and it was a big difference. So I asked for more money. A lot more money. And my employer bellowed and hollered and threw a fit, but when the fit was over, they doubled my money. Overnight.

They didn’t like me for a little while. And it was okay, because I knew it wasn’t about me.

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