THE ART OF ASKING
“If you don’t go after what you want, you’ll never have it. If you don’t ask, the answer is always no. If you don’t step forward, you’re always in the same place.” Nora Roberts
I am a true believer in this statement. Here are helpful tips that can increase the likelihood of success in any request.
- Make your request clear and actionable. It is my belief that people generally want to help others. As a manager and salesperson, the art of deciphering other requests has become second nature, but most people aren’t mind readers, nor do they have the incentive to try to be. People need to know what you’re asking for or they can’t help. In addition, you need to make that request easy to act upon. Don’t make someone else work to help you, unless intended.
- Frame your request for success. How you frame, meaning what you say before and after a request, is incredibly important. The information you present leading up to the request can be used to handle objections, present value, create empathy or set you up for failure. If you know where your audience is coming from, you will have a good idea about what information will be helpful in getting you to a yes.
- Get right with what you are asking for. Seventy percent of our communication is nonverbal. Personal psychology plays a big roll in a successful request. At times we may feel we’re asking too much from people, and in other cases we feel like someone ‘should’ have already done what we want. Vocal variation, intonation, pace, depth of voice and energy behind a request play a huge role in any ask. Mumbling, high pitch voices, excited pace and up ticks on statements can position a person from a place of weakness. All of these can and will communicate the nonverbal message in the back of your mind.
- Let go of expectations. It is my opinion that people do things because they want to, not because they are obligated to. Obligation creates resentment and distrust. If you find yourself motivating someone to do something because it’s their job or because you said so, it is time to take a step back. Adults are not children and treating them like one sets you up to be the recipient of childlike behavior, and not in the good way.
- Know the balance in your emotional bank account. Years ago, I took a training course with executive coach Bryan Franklin, who taught me about an ‘emotional bank account’. Coined by Stephen Covey, “It basically means that anyone with whom we have a relationship with, whether it be our coworkers, family or friends, we maintain a personal ‘emotional’ bank account with them. This account begins on a neutral balance. And just as with any bank account, we can make deposits and withdrawals. However, instead of dealing with units of monetary value, we deal with emotional units.”, as defined by Life Training Online. Emotional bank accounts apply to business relationships just as they do personal relationships. The balance in your emotional bank account will play a large role in the success of any request.