If you want to G-E-T, you have to A-S-K.
Tip O’Neil, the retired Speaker of the House, learned an important lesson in his first campaign. It came from Mrs. O’Brien, his high school speech and drama teacher.
The night before the election, she said, “Tom, I’m going to vote for you tomorrow even though you didn’t ask me to do it.” O’Neil was shocked. “Why Mrs. O’Brien,” he said, “I’ve lived across the street from you for 18 years. I cut your grass in the summer. I shoveled your walk in winter. I didn’t think I had to ask for your vote.”
Mrs. O’Brien replied, “Tom, let me tell you something. People like to be asked.” How true!
People don’t want to be told, and people don’t want to be taken for granted. They want to be asked.
The trouble is, most people don’t ask for what they want. Robert Conklin, author of How to Get People to Do Things, estimated that only one out of ten actually asks for what he wants. The other nine hint, hope, wait, and wager, but only one out of ten actually comes out and asks for what he wants.
The insurance company, Mutual of Omaha, found that to be true. They weren’t satisfied with the results their sales people were getting, so they conducted an experiment. They asked 2000 prospects across the country if they would participate in their research project. Quite simply, Mutual of Omaha would send out a salesperson who would try to sell them insurance. If the salesperson “asked” for the sale, the prospect was to buy the insurance. If the salesperson didn’t “ask,” the prospect wouldn’t buy.
Can you guess what percentage of the salespeople asked the prospects to buy? The results were astounding. Only 9% of the salespeople asked the prospects to buy. Ninety-one percent never bothered to ask such things as, “Would you like to have this insurance? Can we close this deal? Will you sign here?”
If people like to be asked, then why don’t people do it? It’s such an easy way to get more of what they want.
=> 1. PERHAPS THE BIGGEST REASON IS THE FEAR OF REJECTION.
People are afraid of hearing the scary word “no.”
But stop and think about it. There is no such thing as rejection. If you ask someone to help you with a project and he says “no,” what’s the big deal? You had no help before, and you still don’t. You can’t lose what you don’t have. You have everything to gain and nothing to lose by asking.
=> 2. THE SECOND BLOCK TO ASKING IS THE FEAR OF FAILURE.
In other words, if you should ask for something, such as a sale or a change in procedures, and you get a negative response, it’s easy to jump to the conclusion that you’re a failure.
That’s nonsense. Someone else’s “no” has nothing to do with your self-esteem. A “no” is nothing more than a person saying he has a different priority than you.
So take a lesson from children. When they hear the word “no,” it doesn’t mean anything. They don’t take it personally. They just come up with another closing technique.
=> 3. THE THIRD BLOCK IS THE MYTH OF DISCOUNTING.
You may think — if you have to ask for what you want — it doesn’t count. After all, if that other person really cared, he would know what you want.
That’s ridiculous. Most people don’t have ESP. They don’t know what you want unless you ask for what you want.
And if you don’t bother to ask, you stand to lose a great deal. You stand to lose four things.
=> A. THE MOST OBVIOUS LOSS IS NOT GETTING WHAT YOU WANT.
According to Douglas Lurten, the author of many fine books, people win or lose the things they want — most of the time — by simply asking or not asking for those things.
=> B. YOU ALSO LOSE YOUR PEACE OF MIND.
When you don’t ask for what you want, you end up angry and bitter about not getting the raises, help, and affection — you never asked for. And you’ll be upset with yourself for not saying what you wish you would have said.
=> C. A THIRD LOSS IS TIME.
When you don’t ask for what you need, you waste time.
I see too many employees who need an answer to a question, but they are afraid to ask. So instead of taking the five minutes that would be needed to ask for help, they take three days trying to figure it out for themselves. It’s an inexcusable waste of time and talent.
=> D. FINALLY, YOU’RE GOING TO LOSE THE JOY IN YOUR PERSONAL RELATIONSHIPS.
The belief that others should know what you want, that you shouldn’t have to ask, causes more trouble in the world than almost anything else. In fact, it may be the single or biggest cause of divorce — that he won’t ask for what he wants and neither will she. Both sides end up feeling resentful and hurt.
The good news is you don’t have to lose any of those things. You can ask for what you need. And when you do, you increase your chances of success.
Richard Bach, the author of Jonathan Livingston Seagull, asked 51 publishers to print his book before he got a “yes.” If he had stopped asking at number 50, we wouldn’t have that classic book, the movie, or the music by Neil Diamond.
Colonel Harlan Sanders traveled for two years, crisscrossing the country, asking 1011 restaurant owners to partner with him and his secret chicken recipe. They all said “no,” but number 1012 said “yes.” If the colonel had stopped asking, he would have been a poor 65-year-old without a dime to his name.
Time is flying by. Don’t waste it by waiting for the good things to come into your life. Go out and get them by asking for them.
Action: What’s stopping you from asking for what you want? The fear of rejection? The fear of failure? Or the myth of discounting?
Whatever it is, it’s time to fortify yourself. Start telling yourself, “I ask for what I want, and I ask for what I need. I ask firmly, and I ask boldly, knowing it’s okay to ask. And I know that the more I ask, the more I receive.”
Practice this affirmation, and you’ll be on your way to being a more effective communicator.