How the best leaders win the cooperation of others (part 3)

Most likely you know what you want other people to do. You want such things as a person showing up for an appointment when they agreed to do so. You want your colleagues to listen to you without interruption. You want a full day’s work for a full day’s pay. You want your friends to pay their full share on an outing. And the list goes on and on.

The strange thing is that less than 10% of people actually ask for what they want. Somehow, they figure that all those other people out there will just magically understand what is wanted and give them what is wanted without having to ask for it.

Sorry! That’s not how life works. The winners, the champions, the peak performers in life and work know they have to A-S-K to G-E-T.

Two issues ago in my Tuesday Tip, I told you there is a three-step process for getting the full and willing cooperation of others.

  1. You must know what they need.
  2. You must give them what they need.
  3. You must ask for what you need.

In the previous two issues I outlined how to do steps 1 and 2. Today I’ll finish with the third step, asking for what you need.

The good news is if you ask in the right way, you’ll get a lot more yeses from people and a lot more cooperation. I suggest you follow these guidelines.

► 1. Be direct.

Don’t hint. When you announce a staff meeting for 8:00 a.m. and people show up late, don’t say, “It sure would be nice if we could start on time.

I was beginning to wonder whether I had written the wrong time on my calendar.” That’s not asking. That’s hinting and begging, neither of which earn the respect of your staff.

Don’t demand. Don’t say, “You’re going to have to show up on time from now on. I’m sick of waiting around for you.” This approach produces defensiveness.

Instead, simply be direct. A direct request would be, “Will you please be here at 8:00 a.m. sharp for our meeting on Tuesday?” It’s clear; it’s respectful, and it doesn’t demean the other person. When you ask a direct question and get a direct yes response, follow-through increases about tenfold.

That was Missy Bailey’s experience. Coming from the Finance Department of the Target Corporation, she wanted to make sure that my two-day Journey-to-the-Extraordinary experience would be a great investment of her time and money. She wanted to learn the skills that would make a big and immediate impact on her life and career. And that’s what she got.

Missy wrote,

“Just 90 minutes after leaving the Journey, I had a chance to use my newly acquired skills! I learned how to be an ‘actor’ instead of a ‘reactor.’ I asked for what I wanted and got it. Wow! These skills really work! Thanks for sharing your gifts. You made a huge difference in my life.”

I invite you to join my virtual Journey-to-the-Extraordinary experience on October 3-4, 2024. For more information or to register now with our SUPER EARLY-BIRD SAVINGS,

► 2. Be specific.

The more specific you are about the behavior you want, the more likely you are to get it

For example, if you ask an associate to give you a certain report by the end of the week, what in the world does that mean, exactly? Nothing. On the other hand, if you ask, “Will you please hand the XYZ report to me at 2:00 p.m. on Friday,” there’s no room for misunderstanding.

► 3. Be positive.

When you ask the other person to do something, expect them to say “yes.” As strange as it may sound, people sense your state of mind. If you think, “They’re going to say ‘no’ … I just know how difficult they always are … or … This isn’t going to work,” they probably will say “no.” But if you approach someone with confidence and optimism, you’ll be delightfully surprised at how much more cooperation you’ll receive.

By the way, this isn’t some kind of magical thinking. This guideline is backed up by years of sales training and research. Highly trained, highly effective, professional salespeople know that the mindset they have when they ask the prospect for the sale will have a huge impact on the number of “yes” responses they receive.

So ask, expecting to get a “yes” in return.

► 4. Be respectful.

If you’re a leader, you have every right to tell people what to do. But that is seldom the most effective approach.

After people have gone through the teenage years and turned into adults, at least age wise, they want to be asked rather than told what to do. It feels more respectful, more adult like. It’s a subtle shift in your wording, but it makes a difference in how much willing cooperation you receive from others.

► 5. Be polite.

In most cultures, people have been taught to respond more favorably when they hear the words “please” and “thank you.” So don’t forget to show the utmost respect — in your tone of voice and the words you choose.

► 6. Be firm.

Don’t apologize. If you preface your request with such comments as, “I know you’re really busy … I hate to bother you … and … I hope you don’t mind, but,” the other person may feel like, “That’s right. So leave me alone.”

The more you apologize for asking, the more unreasonable your request may sound. Just ask, but ask firmly.