I don’t know about you, but I hate asking for things. I hate asking for permission, I hate asking for help, I hate asking for directions.
The first mega agent I worked for picked up on my hesitancy to ask. She used to say to me, “Elizabeth, you have to a-s-k to g-e-t.” And she was right. If you want something you have to ask for it. Especially if you can’t get it yourself.
A few years later, another agent used a technique on my that I really liked and I bring it out on occasion when I really need the answer to be yes.
It goes like this: “Hey I have a question to ask you, and I give you permission to say no. Is that okay? What I’ve done here is disarmed the person I’m asking the question to. People hate to feel pressured into doing things, and they want to say as their initial response. Usually because they want to think about their response before giving you a definitive answer.
When you give the person permission to say no, it’s like they’ve already said no and gotten that out of the way. Typically what I am asking is for a simple, small favor, but in the case that you do get a no response, I do have some follow up questions you can ask.
In the book, Never Split the Difference, former FBI hostage negotiator Chris Voss says, “…you have to train yourself to hear ‘No’ as something other than rejection, and respond accordingly. When someone tells you ‘No,’ you need to rethink the word in one of its alternatives—and much more real—meanings:
- I am not yet ready to agree;
- You are making me feel uncomfortable;
- I do not understand;
- I want something else;
- I need more information; or
- I want to talk it over with someone else.
Then, after pausing, ask solution-based questions or simply label their effect:
‘What about this doesn’t work for you?’
‘What would you need to make it work?’
‘It seems like there’s something here that bothers you.’
People have a need to say, ‘No.’ So don’t just hope to hear it at some point; get them to say it early.”
One place where I see this working immediately is if you’d like to enroll in a coaching course or you’d like to attend a conference. Your agent is probably not likely to ask you if there’s a course or conference you’d like to attend, so you’ll need to ask. Using the technique of disarming your agent, you’ll be more likely to get a yes. And if the initial answer is no, then you celebrate that small win, because hearing no simply means you are that much closer to getting a yes! Following up with, “What would you need to make it work?” will reveal the true reason for the no. In which case, you can keep moving forward with the conversation instead of being completely shut down.
Would you like a mentor or an accountability partner, but you are afraid to ask? This question helps take the sting out of asking for you. You’ve already prepared yourself to hear no by giving the other person permission to say it. However, I think you’ll most likely hear yes as the answer. If their answer truly is no, ask someone else! How do you think our agents hear no multiple times a day and live to tell the tale? Sometimes, no means not now and sometimes no just means NEXT!
So try this technique in the next few weeks and let us know how it goes down below in the comments. I’ve had some really good success with this, and I hope you do too!