My motto in life has always been ‘you get what you order’, in another words, if you ask for something you might get it. If you don’t ask you most certainly don’t get it.
For instance I never understood the dating game where women were supposed to sit quiet and wait endlessly for that phone call (that never came). I’d rather found out if the thing was going anywhere or not and if not, well there’s plenty of fish in the sea. Why waste your precious time?!
Simple truth is that you have to learn to ask to get people to help you. What ever your goal in life, your current self-improvement project or career ambitions, the chances are you won’t make it without other people’s help. And every start-up entrepreneur knows that you need a lot of help to get your idea off the ground.
Here’s a quick check list for the art of ‘asking’.
1) Start asking
One of the most stupid concepts women have is that the men are supposed to know what we think inside our pretty little heads without any verbal communication from our side. Woman’s idea of love is that the man magically knows exactly what she wants, be it a choice of a wine in a restaurant or when to have sex. And surely if the man doesn’t read her mind there must be something wrong with the man!
The world (and the men) around you are too busy caring for their own business (as they should) to be fully focused on you and your inner agenda. It is time to start speaking up and start asking. You can practise with your husband or boyfriend at home and instead of letting him guess what you really want, why not try to say it out loud. If it doesn’t work, just repeat it.
Once asking has been well established at home it is time to take the experiment to the wild jungle of everyday life. If you are starting a business or want to advance your career you have to learn to ask, and ask often. The more you ask the better you get at explaining your idea and convincing people to support it. People are generally helpful as long as they know what they can do for you.
2) Ask precisely
Define your ask. Practise your ’30 second elevator pitch’ ie what would you say if you met a person who can help you in a lift? Be precise and include ‘ask’ in the pitch. Don’t just describe your idea, define how that person can help you or what kind of help you are looking for.
It’s important to make a list of the ‘asks’ you are going to have to ask to get your project completed. You will be able to be fully aware of the favours you need, who are the people who you should talk to and then make an ‘ask’ plan.
3) Timing of the ask
When you have your ‘ask’ plan ready it should relate to your overall project plan or life goal. Think of ‘asks’ like tokens in a video game. You have a limited number of ‘super powers’ you can use to get to the next level, same applies here. If you are going to ask someone really important for help, make sure you have planned the ask correctly and you time it so that you maximise the impact on your project or plan.
There are also a lot of times when we need to ask spontaneously. Women tend to let other people (men) speak first, endlessly waiting for the right moment to speak. It will never come. Don’t wait for a permission. Just speak up. Interrupt if you have to. There is no need to be rude or impolite, but remember your own goal and what you want to get out of the interaction. These moments will come fast and they will go even quicker. Just remember, you get what you order and if you don’t order, you don’t get anything.
4) Understand the two way street of ‘ask’
Before you start asking, see if you can help other people. It is not a one way street and apart from small asks, such as asking your friend for an opinion, try to be aware of the value you can provide to others. As a minimum, offer the person your help in the future ‘If there is anything I can do to help you in the future just let me know‘.
It is also important to understand the ‘two way’ system when it comes to free favours. I’m very suspicious of a ‘free lucnh’ as there is no such thing. If you get someone to do something for you for free, great. But this may mean that she will help you after she has done all other work she gets paid for and served the real clients. Let’s say someone is going to develop your website for free. It is worthwhile to have a frank conversation about the ‘exchange’ and if there would be anything you could give back (if not money there might be something you can help the other person with). When someone is just doing you a favour you might end up at the bottom of the pile and you are still waiting for your website to be finished in six months time. But if you have the discussion upfront the person will understand that even if you get the service for free you are still expecting to be served like a normal client.
5) Ask from people who have lots
Generally we tend to ask help from people who are in our own level or perhaps just a little above as we feel embarrassed to ask from outside of our own league or we feel we are not worthy of such connections (or we are simply afraid of refusal). But when you are starting something new, a business or you want to radically change your lifestyle or situation, it is worthwhile looking to find a mentor or people who are living the life you want.
My train of thought goes like this. You should be connecting with people who are on the same level and in a similar situation as you. Then you should be helping other people to advance their projects or dreams. If you do the latter, you have earned ‘global karma points’ and which you can use to ask for help from people who are radially more successful than you. Think of exchanging the ‘karma points’ into ‘super powers’ in a video game to get to the next level! It all balances out this way. For me helping others is the key as it gives me the inner moral right to ask for help.
If you do this you don’t have to announce it to the world, it is just for your own benefit, but I’m sure the universe knows what you are doing. It is also likely that the people you want help from were in the same position as you one day. They asked for help from people above their league and then got where they are today. It is likely that they want to share some of their good fortune and knowledge so it is always worth while asking people who have lots as they have lots to give.