Ask And You Shall Receive

A loser wants his way. A winner makes his way.

If you’re like most people, you want to know how you can get others to do what you want them to do. That’s understandable, but it’s also a little short-sighted.

If you’re a truly effective communicator, you ask a slightly different question. You want to know how you can get others to do what you want them to do — BECAUSE THEY WANT TO DO IT.

I have an entire program that addresses that very question, but for starters USE HUMOR. People are more cooperative when they’re smiling or laughing. The State of Florida, for example, got a lot more compliance when they changed their signs from “No Smoking” to “Florida is a clean indoor air state. But dirty air is available in designated areas.”

Along similar lines, Ramona Gaines found it was a lot easier to cooperate when she was smiling. She was rushing to a meeting after she had finished teaching for the day. As she glided past a stop sign, she immediately saw a police car and its flashing red light. She pulled to the curb, relieved that the young officer was a former English student of hers. She thought she was off the hook, but the officer gently said, “Sorry, Mrs. Gaines. That sign was a period, not a comma.” A little humor goes a long way.

Second, ASK FOR WHAT YOU WANT. Most people don’t like to cooperate with pushy, demanding, or whining people. Most people want to be asked in a caring, humble, and straight-forward manner. It’s like the 16 year old boy who worked at a Ford dealership until 6:00 PM every school day and put in twelve hour days during the summer. Part of his job was taking off the hubcaps at night so they wouldn’t be stolen. One day, carrying an armful of hubcaps, he almost bumped into the new general manager and dropped all the hubcaps. The boy was fired on the spot.

Desperate for a solution, the boy wrote to Henry Ford II. He explained what happened, said his family was a loyal Ford family, and when he was old enough he was going to buy a Mustang. He asked for his job back. Eventually, the dealer called the boy and said, “I don’t know who you know in Detroit, but if you want your job back, you got it.” The boy had learned to ask for what he wanted.

Finally, to encourage others to cooperate, DO THEM A FAVOR FIRST. That same boy, later in college, wanted to work at a Rolls Royce dealership, but the owner said there were no openings. So the boy started washing cars there anyway. When the owner noticed the young man and asked what he was doing, the young man simply said he was working there until he was hired. He was.

Oh, did I forget to tell you? That young man’s name was Jay Leno.


Action:  This week, think of one thing you want from someone else. Then, instead of beating around the bush or demanding cooperation, just ask that person for what you want in a caring, humble, straight-forward manner. You’ll get cooperation, clarity, or both, and that’s not bad.