Last April I made a big career decision. After 12 years of working in PR as an entertainment publicist, I hung up my hat and left. But making that decision wasn’t easy. You see, being a publicist was a formative experience for me both personally and professionally. I met some of the most amazing people, worked on some of the coolest films, experienced many pinch-me worthy moments, and traveled the world. I learned to think quickly on my feet, speak confidently in public, and juggle multiple projects, all while producing massive events. Coming from a small town in Nebraska straight to tinseltown, I often heard the phrase, “Do you know how cool your job sounds?” And at times, even I was awe-struck.

But all cool events and moments aside, my heart wasn’t in it. And if I’d stayed, I’d not only be doing the company and my colleagues a disservice, I wouldn’t be living my most authentic life. Arriving to the point of knowing what I wanted (or didn’t want) was the easy part; asking for it was an entirely new ball game. For me, it took almost three months to muster up the courage to ask.

photo credit Zoe O’Hoy by Sarina Meuleman for Pitch-Present

Last month I wrote this post about Facing Your Fears in the New Year and having the tough conversations. You know the kind I’m talking about, right? The ones that leave your heart fluttering, account for many sleepless nights, and usually leave you with a fully flushed face or breaking out in hives. The ones that you may decide not to have because it seems easier to just let it be. Or the ones you kind of skirt around, leaving subtle hints here and there but never really attacking the issue. Yep, those conversations.

That’s exactly how I felt in April. I was nervous — what would my boss think? I was scared — what if I’m no longer needed in the company? And I feared rejection — what if my boss says no to my proposal? Am I ready for the next step? I wrote out several different proposals for each scenario, though none of them made me happy. Then I remembered a theme that emerged from The Immersion retreat (which I’ve written about here and here). Only settle for big talk, meaning, be intentional and direct with your words and ask for what you want. Forget skirting around topics. Forget letting things be because you think it’ll be easier than addressing it. Go big.

photo credit Style by Emily Henderson

Bingo. The proverbial lightbulb went off. From that point on, I made a promise to be direct, have the tough conversation, say what I mean, and above all, ask for what I want. Remember the No Fear shirts from the early 90’s? No joke, I visualize those every time I think about being direct and asking.

Here are a few things that help me when asking big:

1. You can still be polite. I have a friend who is notorious for getting what she wants, but she doesn’t necessarily make a lot of friends in the process. Folks, let me tell you — the nice kids always win in the end. You know that saying, “They may forget what you said, but they will never forget how you made them feel?” It’s true. You can be direct and bold, but kind. Golden rule, right?

2. Will I be OK with a “no?” Before I even ask, I realize that there’s a chance I may get a flat out “no.” While a “no” is a tough pill to swallow, it’s also kind of refreshing to me to know that there’s growth and change with that. Maybe I need to think through the next ask a bit more. Or maybe the ol’ when-one-door-closes-another-opens is happening in that moment. If I don’t have a backup plan or a counter-offer plan, I’ve got to be ok with moving on.

photo via Darling Magazine (original source unknown)

3. Being direct is the biggest time saver. I’ve spent too much time in my personal and professional life skirting around a topic because I was nervous to be so direct. In the end, I left feeling even more frustrated because nothing was resolved. Being direct is being truthful, honest, and will save you so much time in the long run.

4. Will this matter later? Doesn’t everything seem super amplified in the moment? Looking back at last April, I can’t believe that I let my own happiness and future career consume so much of my life. I’ve restored faith in the notion that everything happens for a reason, but even more, I love to ask myself what this decision or ask might look like down the road. 99% of the time it won’t matter later — and asking for what I want is the smartest move at the moment.

My hope is that if you take anything away from this piece it’s that you realize being intentional and truthful is the only way to live. Asking for what you want is empowering and will only lead you to a more fulfilling life. It’s all a part of living kindly. Happy New Year.

click here to read more from our Living Kindly series

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Comments (13)
  1. 1
    Daeyz January 18, 2017 at 8:07 am

    Such a great post, so relatable!


  2. 2
    Courtney January 18, 2017 at 8:25 am

    Such a wonderful post. Totally agree in living a kind and authentic life. Thanks for sharing this!

  3. 3
    karin January 18, 2017 at 8:43 am

    Just perfect for me at this time, but I would like a bit more hints/advice I can use, especially the ‘ask for’ part without being rude and demanding sounding. Maybe something you can add later on?

    • Kelly Krause January 18, 2017 at 9:57 am

      Thanks for taking the time to not just read, but respond. I thought a lot about being more specific, but I think it’s really subjective for each person and their unique situation. Personally, I think we get so much further when we approach the ask with kindness. When I set a meeting, I let the person know why we’re meeting ahead of time. In the meeting, I open letting them know what my ultimate hope / goal is (ie: my goal is find something that works for both of us) and I come prepared (If that’s a raise, talk about how much revenue you’ve brought in, etc. etc. etc.). Ultimately, I think it’s important to know that the other end might not be receptive — maybe they need time to think about it, or it’s a flat-out no. You have to be prepared for that and know what your next move is. Re: not being rude: smile when you ask. Not one of those cheesy / they won’t take you seriously smiles, but a confident smile. If you’re asking for something, it’s because you feel confident in your work, etc and you’re proud. If it’s something a little more personal or hard, I truly approach from a place of love. “Listen, I so appreciate our partnership or our relationship and I value transparency, so I want to talk to you about x, y, z. I feel . . . my hope is. . . , etc.” I hope this helps.

  4. 4
    Blush & Pearls January 18, 2017 at 8:58 am

    This is an area I always have difficulty in. I always worry about offending others or sounding harsh so being direct takes a lot of effort on my end.

    Blush & Pearls by Angela

    • karin January 18, 2017 at 9:09 am

      exactly how I feel and then I get frustrated and not wanting to be brave again!

  5. 5
    Sofia January 18, 2017 at 9:15 am

    Being polite and kind is so crucial! I’m so glad you made that your first point!

    xo, Sofia

  6. 6
    Fariha January 18, 2017 at 4:43 pm

    This is so thoughtfully written. I’m one of those people that apologizes a lot (I mean, A LOT) and I feel bad being direct about what I want. It’s much better to be direct and polite while doing so, but I always feel like I’m being rude. And that’s when I just start apologizing, even when I don’t need to! Thank you for sharing tips on the proper etiquette for asking for what you want.

    Fariha | Blog

  7. 7
    keith January 20, 2017 at 4:17 am

    Totally agree in living a kind and authentic life. Thanks for sharing this!

  8. 8
    Jodi January 20, 2017 at 12:57 pm

    Are you aware of the poet/philosopher David Whyte? He’s given a number of talks in which he speaks of “courageous conversations”, which reminds me very much of what you say here about “tough” conversations. He talks a lot about simply starting the difficult conversations to work ourselves into what we want or need. All of his talks are absolute gems, and I highly recommend them.

    • Kelly Krause January 20, 2017 at 11:24 pm

      I’m not familiar with David, thank you for sharing Jodi. Very much look forward to diving into his work this weekend!

  9. 9
    Ali | PunchDrunkSoul January 24, 2017 at 6:18 pm

    Loved this piece! Thank you for sharing! I recently left a full time PR gig as well to focus on more of what I wanted to do with my life – help people. A total shift but now I’m finally able to live in alignment with my truest self and still do freelance PR on the side for my old company. I’m definitely lucky 🙂

    I especially like the quote you mention about being kind in your ask – “They may forget what you said, but they will never forget how you made them feel?”. Agree this is so true! People will always remember the way you make them feel <3.

  10. 10
    mychirpylife January 25, 2017 at 7:22 am

    Great post! Took me 9 months to quit my job last year too. I was given so many reasons why I should not. But these are not relevant to me. I quit for the sake of my own sanity and in accordance I want for my life.



Kelly Krause