All You Need To Do Is Ask

“I hope they give me a pay rise”.

“I hope they ask me out”.

“I wish they would let me have a go.”

We often want things to happen in our lives but we rarely find ourselves actually asking for it. We just sort of hope that others will offer it to us or read our minds.

We avoid asking out of fear of rejection and looking silly. However, if we just ask for what we want we may actually get it.

Tell Others What You Want

Research has shown that people respond favourably to requests made in a reasonable tone of voice. If you also give a reason with your request people respond even better.

In a psychology experiment conducted by Ellen Langer at Harvard University in 1978, participants asked students standing at a busy photocopier if they could cut the queue and use the machine first.

Participants would ask people at the front of the queue one of the following three things:

  1. Ask to skip the line providing no excuse: “Excuse me, I have 5 pages. May I use the Xerox machine?
  2. Ask to skip the line + give a poor excuse: “Excuse me, I have 5 pages. May I use the xerox machine, because I have to make copies?
  3. Ask to skip the line + give a good excuse: “Excuse me, I have 5 pages. May I use the xerox machine, because I’m in a rush?

The poor excuse: “I have to make copies” is obviously a silly remark as everyone queuing for a photocopier wants to make copies. The good excuse may seem plausible and people may be more willing to accept it.

When Ellen and her team analysed the results they found the following:

  1. When participants simply asked to skip the line, people would let them jump the queue 60% of the time.
  2. When participants asked to skip the line and gave a poor excuse, people would let them jump the queue 93% of the time.
  3. When participants asked to skip the line and gave a good excuse, people would let them jump the queue 94% of the time.

What was amazing is that if you just ask for something you have a decent chance of getting it. But if you ask for something and give an excuse (either good or bad) you stand a very high chance of people complying.

It didn’t matter if the reason made sense or not. The difference between a bad excuse and a good excuse was only 1%. People just responded positively to the word “because” when giving an excuse.

If You Don’t Ask, You Don’t Get

If you want something in life, be brave and simply ask – you might just get it.

But if you are nice with your approach and provide a reason, using the word “because” then you stand a very high chance of getting it.

Give it a go, you may be surprised with the results.

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