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Stop Feeling Impolite: Tips For Making "The Ask"


For many, the task of “making an ask” invokes unpleasant feelings. Whether we’re negotiating a salary, fundraising, selling a product, or asking for a big favor, we often sell ourselves short simply because we don’t know how to execute “the ask.” Our overly-courteous inclinations tend to overtake the situation, and we walk away wishing we could have acted more boldly.

Whether professionally, personally, or through community involvement, we will all eventually need to know how to ask for something: a donation, someone’s business, a raise, etc. When these situations arise, we need to know how to make a request in a way that’s difficult to refuse. Here are the basics:

HOW YOU ASK

Sending an email or text feels less awkward than a phone call or meeting. We get to carefully edit exactly what we want to say. There are no surprises such as a voicemail or a bad connection. It removes the uncomfortable feeling of having to think on your feet.

Unfortunately, these methods are much less successful than a phone call or in-person meeting. If you give someone a chance to think of excuses, they most likely will. Make someone tell you to your face (or at least over the phone) that they are declining whatever you’re requesting of them.

YOUR VERBIAGE

Think back to requests you’ve made in the past that have ended poorly. Did you directly and confidently ask for exactly what you wanted? Or did you skirt around what you really wanted to ask and allow someone to cop out? Which of the following requests sound more convincing?

“Sorry to bother you. I was hoping you would consider donating money to our cause. I know it’s a really busy time of year. So, I totally understand if you can’t.”

or

“Would you consider donating a gift of $250 to our fundraiser?”

The second option is much more to-the-point, but we get nervous and uncomfortable and our request comes out more like the first option. The wishy-washiness of the first option gives them an out before you even get a chance to explain your request. The second option subtly gives them no other choice but to comply.

EXPECT A “YES”

Understand you will hear “no” occasionally (probably more often than you like). However, when you go into a situation expecting a “yes”, you naturally exude more confidence. When people feel your confidence, it makes it more difficult to turn you down. When you do hear “no”, don’t take it personally and don’t be afraid to ask again later. The more you get out of your comfort zone and make these tough requests, the more natural it will become.

Whether it’s fundraising for your child’s school or asking your boss for a raise, making “the ask” is a skill that is invaluable to all parts of your life. We just have to do away with the misconception that we’re somehow impolite when we do this.

For more tips on negotiation and making tough requests click here, here, or here.