Have you even needed help from a family member or advice from a friend but didn’t know how to ask for it? Many people, myself include, spent way to much time contemplating what to say and playing out potential responses before working up the nerve to ask for help. This is especially common when we feel like we don’t have anything to offer the individual in return.
I think asking for a favor, however small, is particularly difficult because we are essentially setting ourselves up for rejection. If someone is unable or unwilling to help us, we need to accept that answer and move on. However, there are ways to make asking a favor a bit easier and increase the chances of a positive response.
Lately, I have been realizing just how often we go out of our way to avoid asking for help, often making a simple scenario far more difficult than it needs to be. During this same period, I have been forced to ask for help on many occasions. I can’t be my own post-anesthetic drive home, and I often need external assistance flipping a situation inside out to find the silver lining.
After repeatedly asking for help this year, often with humble trepidation, I have also found that people actually like helping others. Most people welcome the opportunity to support a loved one, utilize their skills, or even show off their capabilities a bit. In most cases, it truly is a win-win situation.
Here are a few lessons I’ve learned about asking for a favor, all of which will hopefully help you to strengthen interpersonal bonds and make life just a little bit easier for yourself the next time you consider asking for help.
Be Direct With Your Request
Start by saying, “Can I ask a favor?” Don’t bury your request deep within an elaborate story with a clear question or directive, as this will only make people impatient. Being asked for a favor makes people feel needed and gives them the opportunity to practice benevolence. This short introductory statement allows the requested to shift gears and listen emphatically to your request.
Offer Reasons Why
Humans are more likely to say yes to a request if a reason is given, even if the reason doesn’t make much sense. The word “because” actually triggers the automatic compliance response in humans, so offer a reason why you could use the help or why the other person might be inclined to lend a hand.
Provide an Opt-Out Opportunity
When you ask for a favor, always offer the other person the chance the easily and graciously decline. End the request with something like, “I understand if you can’t help out this time,” and mean it. We all have full lives and may not always have the time and energy to support our friends and family members. This statement shows that you respect the other person’s time and aren’t trying to guilt trip them.