Be Brave and Just Ask

Have you ever feel like you want to ask something, but you are afraid to do it? If the answer is no, then congratulation! You have master the art of asking or you simply don’t afraid to ask something. However, for most of people, especially in Asian country, asking is somehow frightening for us. Maybe it is caused by the culture in this area. People tend to refrain to ask something because we are afraid to ask a stupid question, or maybe because we are afraid to get rejected. In many cases, we don’t get the answer that we want when we ask something. It is absolutely fine, but for many people, it could be discouraging and shameful. I used to feel this way when I want to ask something to other people, but I started to try to have a courage to just ask it anyway. Because the result not necessarily going bad, right?

What Makes Us Afraid?

To address this problem, we need to know the root cause of why we are afraid to asking. There are several reason that make us afraid to ask something, such as:

  1. We are afraid to get rejected by other people
  2. We are afraid to look stupid
  3. We think that the question has an obvious answer
  4. We are not sure whether it is the right time to ask
  5. etc.

Those are some reasons that I have in my mind when I was reluctant to ask something. Maybe there are many other reason that exist in other people mind, but I think those points have cover most of the reason that refrain people from asking.

We are afraid to ask something because we
are afraid about the response that we will get.

The main thing that we can see from the reasons is we are afraid to ask something because we are afraid about the response that we will get. Usually, we think too much about the response that we will get from ask something. Most of the time, we think that the result will be as bad as what we imagine. In fact, most of the time we think about the worst case that less likely to happen. We are focusing on something that is really bad instead of the bright side, so we think too pessimistic before we ask something, and it is indeed a bad behaviour.

So, How to Overcome this Issue?

Most of the time, the result won’t be as
horrible as we imagine if we are brave enough to ask.

As we know that the root cause of this problem is because we are too afraid and too pessimistic to the result, then the answer is obvious: be brave!

Most of the time, the result won’t be as horrible as we imagine. I think we need to focus on the positive side instead of the negative one. Think about what it can be if the answer is yes and it is same or better then what you have expected. This happened for me several months ago, where I need to get a recommendation letter from my supervisor. I want to asked my CMO to give a recommendation letter for me for applying a master degree. In that time, there are several friends that also need to get a recommendation letter, and we know that our CMO is really busy and no one were brave enough to  asked for a recommendation letter from him.

Bad enough for me, that I don’t have any other choice because I only have 2 people that had supervised me in this company, my CMO and my current lead. Having no choice and approached by a tight deadline, I encourage myself to asked my CMO. It was not easy for sure. In fact, I need three days just to be brave enough to asked it. Why? Because I really afraid if I disturb him or if he reject my request or any other worst scenarios that could happen if I ask it to him. Can you guess how is it going? He accepted it! After haltingly explain it to him, he welcomed my plan to continue my study to master degree and willing to give his recommendation letter for me. Moreover, he also gave me some advices and encouragement to pursue my master degree. See? It is not as bad as I expected. In fact, it is  better than the best case scenario that I’ve imagine!

The key to overcome this issue is, be brave and just ask! Maybe you will regret with the result, but I think it is better than if you regret because of not asking it. Even when you think that the answer is obvious. Several weeks ago, I wanted to send my IETLS score to a university. The problem is, the deadline for submitting the admission document has over. I just want to submit this score, because it was just released and it has a better score than the one that I submitted. In that time, I think the answer is obvious. They won’t accept it because the deadline has over. However, I send an email anyway to asked the admission team whether I can submit the document or not. The answer was unexpected. The admission committee asked me to send to her email and she will update it in their system.

As you can see, even if the answer is really obvious for us, we still can get a surprising answer if we are willing to ask.

Some Tips to Prepare You

Sometimes, brave is not enough enable us get a proper answer. There are several things that we can do to enhance our possibilities to get a good answer.

Find a Right Time to Ask

You have to ensure that you ask in the right time. Don’t ask if you know that the people is really busy and barely have a time for you. In my case, I waited for three days just to make sure my CMO will not be disturbed by me. You can use you common sense and decide when is the right time to ask. For formal question, you can set a formal email or set a meeting with them. For informal question, you can just chat them or ask it in the lunch time.

Prepare Your Question Carefully

Of course you don’t want the person you asked to confused about your question. Make sure it is easy to understand and practice to ask it if necessary. I did it when I asked for recommendation letter to my CMO. 🙂

Focus on the Positive Side

Whatever the worst case that appear in you mind, just focus on the positive side. Just think what if the answer is yes and as good as what you expected. Most of the time the answer will not be as worse as what you think, so don’t be afraid and discouraged by this.

Make Sure You Did Some Effort!

Before ask for something, make sure you have did some effort. You should not ask something that you can find by yourself again and again. Make sure you have try to search for the answer or do some effort. It would be really annoying if you ask something before do some effort to get the answer.


In conclusion, be brave, plan everything, and just ask! If currently you still refrain yourself to ask something, do it! Ask the girl you like to hangout, ask for a raise, ask someone to be your mentor. You just have to ask it, and you will know the answer. 🙂

Nanda Firdaus

Ex-engineer who is switching to product management role in Traveloka. Passionate about new technology and have interest in product development, business, and investment. Ex-Microsoft Student Partner. Master of Information System Management at Carnegie Mellon University. Bachelor of Information System, Faculty of Computer Science, Universitas Indonesia.

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