Imagine asking for that promotion — and getting it. Wouldn’t it be nice if your kids grabbed the cleaning supplies every time you asked for a little help around the house? And what a pleasure it would be to serve on a fundraising committee if everyone on your call list agreed to contribute.
In reality, asking others for anything — whether time, money, a favor or even emotional support — is always a gamble.
Does the fear of rejection stand in the way of asking for what you want? You are not alone. Many people would rather avoid the embarrassment or other negative feelings associated with hearing “no” because they take it personally. And so they don’t even ask. By adding a fresh perspective, a life coach can help you separate the denial of a request from a rejection of you as a person.
The chances of getting a positive response to your requests are greater when you are in tune with your own emotions and can take the other person’s perspective. Both of these insights will enable you to communicate clearly and with the most impact, increasing the likelihood of having your request granted.
4 Life Coach Strategies to Effectively Ask for What You Want
- Know what you want before you ask — When you are the one requesting a favor or asking for help, the ball is in your court. Having clarity about what you want will help if your request is met with a counter-offer or misunderstanding. It is up to you whether or not to consider that offer, but be careful not to get blindsided by it, particularly if you tend to be a people pleaser.
- Ask the right person — The saying, “You don’t go to the hardware store to buy a loaf of bread” has its roots in the Alcoholics Anonymous 12-Step Recovery Program, but its relevance extends to any relationship in which unrealistic expectations can lead to disappointment. Are you asking someone who may be incapable — from either an emotional or practical standpoint — to fulfill your request? If so, perhaps you could increase your chances of success by looking for a person who may be better suited or more likely to help.
- Time it well — Catching your neighbor on her way in from work, balancing her two-year old on one hip and holding a bag of groceries in the other arm may not be the best time to ask her to dog-sit for you when you head out of town next week. How do you know if the time is right? Shift your perspective and imagine yourself in the other person’s shoes. A life coach can work with you to sharpen your ability to see situations from other points of view. Having empathy will help you identify the best time to approach someone to ask for what you want, both in your professional and personal life.
- Keep it simple — Get to the point. When you ramble, you run the risk of listener tune-out. Moreover, offering too many reasons for the request actually results in a point of diminishing returns. A study led by Daniel Feiler, an assistant professor at Duke University, compared the success rate of using egoistic (it will benefit me), altruistic (it will benefit others) and a combination of the two types of reasons when asking for donations. The findings: Combining egoistic and altruistic reasons has the potential to undermine a request because it heightens awareness of the persuasive intent, thus eliciting “psychological reactance.” In other words, when you try too hard, the person on the other end may feel bamboozled.
As you build your confidence and gain finesse, you may find that, like any skill, effectively asking for what you want becomes easier with practice. While making requests will always be a gamble, engaging these strategies may increase your odds of success.
What other strategies have you found effective in asking for what you want?
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