When my brother and I were growing-up, our mother didn’t allow us to go trick-or-treating as she thought it was a form of begging! My mother was a proud, self-reliant woman who didn’t like asking people for anything and she instilled that credo into me. To this day, it’s hard for me to ask even friends for a favor.
Around this time last year, my friend Sue and I went to dinner at her favorite restaurant in Balboa. The valet, a teenager, opened Sue’s door. She thanked him and asked, “How are you?” He blurted out, “hungry!” She laughed, reached into the car, and found a candy bar in the glove compartment.
The valet’s eyes twinkled. “Best tip of the day,” he shouted.
I was charmed by Sue’s kindness – and amazed that the valet told her he was hungry! How often are you asked, “How ya doin’?” and you just toss off “fine” and keep moving?
Since that dinner I’ve been experimenting with “asking.” For instance, recently at a networking social I was talking with an event planner. At one point, two women walked by and the planner’s eyes lit up. I thought it was because he found them attractive (which he did) but he was excited because he was convinced they had appeared on the TV show “Shark Tank.”
I nudged him to go over and ask them. He said he couldn’t. Clinging to my newfound motto of “Ask!” I went over. They hadn’t been on “Shark Tank” but were tickled for being mistaken. We chatted, exchanged cards, and I went back to the hapless planner with a new ice-breaker question for social events!
Throughout the year I’ve been practicing “asking” – for introductions to new clients, for higher fees from clients, for opportunities to speak at organizations. I’ve experimented with asking good people for simple favors. And each time I’ve psychologically closed my eyes, held my breath, and waited for – the worst to happen. And it never has!
At least 90% of the time people were happy to help me. They were happy to know of my services and of how I could help them. And that’s part of the “secret” to healthy relationships.
When I think on Sue’s encounter with the valet, I realize she asked a throw-away question in a way that the valet felt comfortable answering her. Or maybe it’s that he was a teen and so was far less inhibited than the rest of us grown-ups?
No matter what, he told her and she answered his need. And that’s really the simple reality –unless we tell people what we need, we don’t have much of a chance of getting our needs met.
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