All You Have To Do Is Ask

“Better to ASK twice than lose your way once.” Danish proverb

When my kids were little and at home, I tried to teach them the value of ASKING for what they wanted. But like so many people, they were initially afraid. They’d say things like, “Dad, can you ask Jimmy’s mother if… or… Dad, will you ask the coach if…” They didn’t want to ASK for themselves.

And yet “asking” is one of the key skills you’ve got to master if you’re going to get the cooperation of others or form a healthy relationship with someone. Expecting someone to know what you want — without asking — is pure craziness. People can’t read minds.

I would coach my kids on how to ask, and I’d let them practice as I observed from a distance. If, for example, they wanted to return something to a store and get a refund, I’d have them ask… rather than have me do it for them. Of course, they didn’t want to, but I wanted them to become effective, assertive, self-empowered adults.

In his book, “The Aladdin Factor: How To Ask For And Get Everything You Want,” Mark Victor Hansen talks about that in great detail. He puts proper asking in the same category as magic.

I agree. That’s one of the magic formulas I teach in my two-day Peak Performance Boot Camp. Read on for another MAGIC formula — but then continue reading today’s “Tuesday Tip” as I outline the formula for ASKING.

Of course a newsletter like this cannot compare to the real live “Journey,” and you can’t master a skill by merely reading about it, but let me give you a few tips on how you can ASK more effectively.

=> 1. Tell Yourself There Is Nothing To Fear.

As Franklin Roosevelt said, “There is nothing to fear but fear itself.” And that can be applied to the skill of asking.

People are often afraid to ask for what they want because they’re afraid of getting punished or rejected. They think if they go out on an emotional limb — and fail — they’re going to be humiliated.

But think about it. I suspect there are very few times in life where you asked for something, and as a result of asking, you suffered severe consequences. In most cases, no one hit you, spit upon you, or wrote you up in the newspaper. In most cases, about the worst thing that did happen or could happen is someone saying “no,” and you can handle that.

As an old Chinese proverb says, “He who asks a question is a fool for five minutes. He who does not ask a question is a fool forever.”

Before you make your request, remind yourself how important your request is. Tell yourself that the only thing that matters is whether or not you are making a good, clear point. By focusing on the merits of your request — and not how you will appear to others — your fears will diminish.

=> 2. Sell Yourself.

Before you try to sell others, you’ve got to sell yourself. You’ve got to believe that you will eventually win over the other side, or you’ll ask with less confidence and determination. And that will cause the other person to take you and your points less seriously.

=> 3. Organize Your Thoughts.

You can’t expect to get the results you want if the other side doesn’t understand your request. So you might write out exactly what you want. And rewrite your points until your reasoning is clear and can be easily related.

=> 4. Ask With Confidence.

You might practice your request in front of a mirror, or you might ask someone else how you sound when you ask. You want to come across with sincerity and enthusiasm.

When you ask from the heart, when you’re perceived as firm, polite, passionate, and friendly, you increase your odds of success. So make sure your voice sounds confident. And make sure you maintain steady eye contact to show that you are serious.

=> 5. Prepare For Resistance.

Even if you do everything right, you might still meet some resistance. The other person might want to confer with somebody else. He might put you off — hoping you’ll forget about it — or just plain say “no.”

If someone resists your request, remind yourself that you may not get what you want immediately. And so what? Don’t view the other person’s resistance as a dead end but merely part of a continuing discussion.

And by all means, avoid any extreme emotional reaction. If you lose your temper or become deeply discouraged, you will almost certainly doom your request. Just be polite and gracious.

=> 6. Say “Thanks.”

Whether or not you get what you want, say, “Thank you.” Gratitude will make the other person more open to giving you what you want — or more of what you want — in the future.

You can say “thanks” directly, or you can follow-up with a note. Whatever method you choose, gratitude keeps you from holding a grudge — which is difficult to hide — and only works against you in the long run.

=> 7. Remind Yourself That Most People — At The Very Least — Like To Be Asked.

Mamie Adams taught me that. Mamie always went to a branch post office in her town because the postal employees at that location were always so very friendly. But one year, just before Christmas, she went there to buy stamps even though the lines were particularly long.

Someone pointed out that there was no need to wait in line because there was a stamp machine in the lobby. “I know,” said Mamie, “but the machine won’t ask me about my arthritis.” You see … people like to be asked.

Even the Bible says, “Ask and you shall receive.” Try using some of these tips when you ask, and I know you will receive a lot better results with your coworkers, customers, and even your family members.

Action:  The next time you are about to make an important request, write it out before you blurt it out. Practice the way you ask. And get some feedback on how you sound. You’ll be much more effective in the long run.