How to Ask for a Favor

Here's the deal. I don't normally do this. This is kind of weird. But will maybe do something for me? Can you possibly find time to read this and maybe email me back some thoughts?

What? No? Crap. I knew it.

Rewind. Do over.

I'd like to ask you for a favor. Will you take 5 minutes of your time to read this story? I think you'll enjoy it because it offers a step-by-step way to learn to ask for what you need. It would be great for me to receive feedback from you because it will help me refine what I need to include in future articles. If you don't have the time or if you're not interested, it's all good, but I think you'll find the information valuable to you as you build your business and need to make lots of new requests. Do you need anything from to make it easier for you?

The difference?

The first favor was awkward and assumes I'm bugging you. It's right up there with "I'm sorry for taking up your time and I know you find me irritating, but can I irritate you some more by asking you to read some of my sniveling content?" [*ahem* smiles?]

Asking people for a favor is NOT bugging them. People love doing favors and helping out. In fact, people who do favors for you actually like YOU more. For real. It's called the Ben Franklin Effect.

"He that has once done you a kindness will be more ready to do you another, than he whom you yourself have obliged" -- Ben Franklin

Asking makes people like you.

Studies show that people are more likely to comply with a request made by someone who has done them a favor than by someone who has not. Furthermore, it's said that doing someone a favor leads to greater likability of the favor asker by the favor granter.

Now that's starting to sound confusing. The point is, people like you better after they have done a favor for you. So stop sounding wonky about asking.

We spend so much time worrying what people will think of us when we ask them to help us or we worry about the cost of that person saying yes. But the fact is, people unconsciously justify why they do favors ("Hey, if she asked me for help, she must like me/respect me.")

Why most people hate favors

Wait. I just said people LIKE doing favors. And that's true. But most people hate listening to the requests because they are usually painful displays of feeling guilty. The simple formula is "I'd like to ask you a favor. Here's what I'm hoping you'll do."

We often think beating around the bush is being more polite. It's not. When asking for a favor, directness always wins.

What's the upside of doing the favor?

In the example above, there was an easy out for the person. I said "...If you don't have the time or if you're not interested, it's all good..." You don't need to include that because we know it's true. The person doesn't have to say yes. But the fact that I took into account you may have a busy schedule makes the request easier to receive.

I also gave a time frame "Will you take 5 min of your time to..." which shows that this is not an ongoing favor that will take you hours of time you're already fighting to control, even if that means staring out a window and doing nothing rather than reading this article.

In short, you'll want to figure out what you're up against when asking -- usually time or money -- and explain why the person granting the favor will benefit "I think you'll enjoy it because it offers a step-by-step way to learn to ask for what you need...I think you'll find the information valuable to you as you build your business and need to make lots of new requests..."

Why people don't need incentive or a reward

People like doing favors. We already covered this. So you don't need to muddy the waters by giving them a reward. It undermines the power of their YES. Most of us believe we are respected and are flattered by being asked for a favor, especially if the favor includes giving an opinion or advice. Make your request as simple as possible and allow the person to say Yes or No, not based on other promises.

4 Steps To Powerfully Ask for a Favor:

  1. Ask for one specific thing at a time. "Will you read this article?"
  2. Give a timeline "This will take about 10 minutes."
  3. Provide emotion/how it makes you feel "It would be great to receive feedback from someone of your caliber because..."
  4. Ask "Do you need anything else from me to make it easy?"

Learning to ask for favors or make requests is the first step in learning to negotiate deals or navigate critical, emotional conversations. You can learn more at www.CauseAndSucces.com.

So, about reading that article...Thank you! Tweet me your thoughts?