Many of us feel uncomfortable asking for things – whether we’re asking for help, asking for money, asking someone to buy something (Girl Scout Cookies anyone?), or asking for business. The need to “ask” can feel awkward, vulnerable or even rude. This discomfort is primarily generated by the asker’s past experience, insecurities, confidence level, belief that they should be able to do it all themselves, etc. If you hate to ask, or have people on your team who do, there’s a mental shift that may help.
Stop thinking of asking as a “have vs. have not” situation. Think of it as one where both parties come out ahead. Often we think of the asker as a “have not” who needs help or a handout from those that “have.” In reality, if you’re making the right request of the right person both sides have a need the other can help fulfill.
Sometimes the best way to achieve your goal as the asker is to look for overlapping interests. Get in conversations with people – listen. Ask questions. Make the connection between where they need help and how you can deliver. If you are the asker, reframe your thinking to include the questions, “what’s important to them?”, “how can I help them?” and “how can we help each other?”. You may come up with offers and solutions together that are even better than your original “ask”!
This mental shift changes the role of the asker from being the one “in need” to being someone who can offer a solution. I love one of the points in “5 Reasons You Must Learn to Ask for Help” – that these conversations and the simple engagement with other people in the acts of asking for and offering help will build invaluable personal connections.
There are opportunities to do this in everyday life:
- We often need to ask team members, colleagues or peers to take on a project or task. Fortunately, most people want to contribute to the success of the company and team. So instead of looking at the workplace “ask” as requesting a favor or thinking that it’s a personal failure not to be able to “do it all” yourself; you can reframe that situation as providing them with an opportunity to develop, stretch and/or contribute to the success of the team. If you understand what members of your team want to accomplish, you’ll be more likely to reach out to the right person to take on your “ask”.
- If you’re focused on growing your business, the best use of your time will not be on a ‘peanut butter’ approach to sales – proposing the same offering to everyone you encounter. Instead, try to understand the needs and challenges of a particular individual so that you can design your “ask” offer around what is relevant to them.
Next time you’re hesitant to delegate or ask for what you need, think about the opportunity you’re providing for the other person. It often takes your “ask” to provide them with the opportunity to truly contribute. By considering their interests and aspirations, your “ask” is really what’s needed to free them up to give wholeheartedly.
You’ll never know what you can accomplish together if you don’t ask.