By: Rhoberta Shaler

John wanted a particular week off this summer to attend a family
reunion. It was particularly important to him for two reasons:
for the first time, every single member of the family would be
there, and it would be on Maui. He checked the office schedule
and found that another member of his team had already booked the
same time away. Disappointedly he told his family he could not
attend. The answer he accepted was 'No'.

The truth was that the co-worker who booked that time off had
chosen her week off at random. A simple request from John would
have been all that was required for her to change her dates.
What was going on here?


Our expectations in any relationship are based on history, on
how things have worked in the past. Interestingly, we will even
take someone else's history as evidence. Does this make sense?
Sometimes, yes, and sometimes, no.

There are very few true 'laws'. People do not do the same
things in the same ways with the same people in every case. Yet,
often , we behave as though this is true. If it happened once,
it will always happen! If it happened to someone, it will happen
to me.

Sure, it makes sense to stay away from sharks. They usually
attack and you look like food. As there is likely no good reason
to approach a shark, there is no problem. What, though, if that
shark had your son's arm in its mouth? You would likely take
some action to get what you want.

The same is true at the office. When something is important to
you and contributes to your well-being, it requires action.
History may have told you that asking may be difficult, timing
may be tricky and receiving may be unlikely, but, if you do not
ask, the answer will always be 'No!".


It's true that we are most comfortable asking those folks we
know least and those we know best for something we want.

simply easiest! Folks unknown to you come with no expectation of
outcome. Rejection from them is easier to handle. Folks you know
well will either give you what you want or, at least, soften
their refusal by taking care of the relationship. It's those
in-between folks that are daunting.

When you ask someone for help, you are telling them that you
believe they have the skills or experience to give you that
help. Don't you feel good when someone asks for your help? Of
course, we're not talking about those few folks who are always
asking for it, those who are too lazy, too busy or too demanding.

You can enhance a relationship by asking for help. You open the
relationship to become more reciprocal. That's a choice only you
can determine is appropriate. If you do not want to be asked for
something, best not ask yourself! But, if you do not ask, the
answer is always "No!".


Some ways of approaching an issue are more productive than
others. It's unlikely you'll get what you want by beginning with
"I'm sure you'll say 'No', but..." You may have tried that one
when you were a teen-ager. It didn't work well, did it?

First, be prepared. Be ready to ask clearly for what you want.
Know why you want it. Be prepared with benefits to the listener
for giving you what you are requesting. If possible, give them a
plan that will work for them...and for you. When you do the
work, you're more likely to get what you want.

Then, pick your moment carefully, then check. "I would like to
discuss something with you. Is this a good time?" or "When would
you have a few minutes free to discuss something?" If you are
asking a supervisor or manager, they will likely want to know
what the topic is. This is fair, however, how you answer is
important. It can make all the difference between getting the
meeting or not.

Phrase your issue broadly and positively . "I'd like to discuss
the vacation schedule." rather than, "I need to talk to you
about getting the dates I want for vacation." Give the overall
topic, not your specific request. If pressed for specifics,
again be positive, clear and brief.


Once in the meeting, first, thank them for their time. Give the
benefits to the listener for giving you what you want, then ask.
Ask clearly for exactly what you want. Do not apologize for your
request. You have the right to ask as they have the right to
refuse. Whatever the outcome, the relationship will shift
slightly no matter who you ask for what! Be prepared.

You have probably heard the English proverb: 'Most things are
lost for want of asking.'. There is no need to lose anything for
that reason. Simply ask. You may be surprised how easy this
becomes with practice. Remember, though, if you do not askFind Article, the
answer is always 'No'. So ask!


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