I learned this from one of the best coaches I had: “if your life doesn’t work, it’s because you suck at making requests.” Little did I know though, I had so much to learn in how to make effective requests of people, ask in a way that honors them, myself and creates opportunity.
Here is what NOT to do:
Pretend that what you are asking for is not a big deal for the other person
- Nobody wants to be undermined for the effort that it takes to do something for another human being. People often assume things are easy for others but this is not only untrue, even if it was true, it doesn’t mean we want to give away our time and effort to others just because
Give a lot of background story and explanation instead of asking for things straight
- Nothing is as annoying than seeing someone’s elaborate intro that makes you feel like a request is coming but your time is being wasted by so much backstory you really don’t want to know about and not because you are a bad person but because you know: this person is not sharing to share, they are preparing for what’s to come: asking for a favor. I am much more inclined to help the straight shooters because I feel that they own that they need help, they don’t waste my time in the process and then it’s easy for me to respond not feeling like I have already invested more than I bargained for in listening to the long story. The only thing long story often does is guilts us into helping instead of helping us choose to help
Be resistant to hearing a NO
- Most of us don’t like hearing a NO. It is, however, everyone’s right to help us or not, so not giving them space to choose freely is a form of manipulation that doesn’t feel good. Things like: “I am sorry I asked” and alike after you decline someone’s request are one of the worse experiences ever because they make us feel that we are only respected and honored when we say YES. We are not really given that choice.
Being entitled to being helped
- I once heard someone complain about her expenses blaming this person she knew who was wealthy for not stepping in to help her. Couple of things are a problem here, one of them being: just because someone else has more, it doesn’t mean they have to give what they have away to people who don’t. In my experience, people that often seem like they are well off, are really not, their expenses may be higher or they work hard to have it so they can afford something else, not so they can give it to people who don’t make the same effort. So entitlement is just no sexy, no matter where it’s coming from
Now, here is how to make an EFFECTIVE REQUEST:
- Work out all the reasons you deserve to be supported. How can you justify this being given to you so that you can own it instead of having to dump it on others. Deserving is a way of being, not a long story you tell, so it is up to you to do create this first
- Honor that another’s person consideration is valuable and enough. Give people an experience that their time matters and ask with that in mind
- Honor people with clear request, don’t have them fish around for what you mean. This allows people to easily determine if they can help or not
- Be mindful to express that whatever the answer, you will love them anyway; meaning, give people full permission to answer freely knowing that you will be ok regardless
- See what you can give return or at least think about how this can be an opportunity for the other person instead of just something you gain. Everything balances in the Universe and affects one another so being able to see what the other person can gain (even if it’s just a satisfaction of helping you or seeing you humbled) is appreciated
Then and only then make your request. We need to ask, we need to practice this and we are bound to make mistakes, but this will help guide us when we do so that we don’t hold a grudge against people who say NO but rather reset and continue trying.
We can’t do it alone and nobody owes us. If we can allow these two statements to live inside of us, we are bound to make effective requests and honor people with them such that their answer, no matter what it is, can be a WIN/WIN situation for all.