Want to know the super-secret step successful people take to get what they want? Think of it as the magic wand in landing your proposals at the top of the stack, getting your foot in the door, and making people want to say yes.
It’s how we’ve taken a free trip across the Atlantic as the only passengers on cruise ship, beat out serious competition for great house sits around the world, and landed great media coverage in websites and magazines for our publishing business.
This super secret weapon is called….preparation. And instead of intimidating you, you should be pretty excited because it typically only takes an extra 10 minutes of thought to make your request 100% more likely to get to yes.
Before you ask someone else, ask yourself:
- What exactly do I want?
- How does this fit with what the other person needs?
- How can I make it really easy for him/her to say yes?
What exactly do you want?
Your chances of success fall by the second when you waste time like this. No one wants to be responsible for both asking and granting your request. If you want it bad enough, be confident enough to ask for what you want clearly and concisely. No one should have to work that hard to figure out what you want.
(And if they do make the effort to eventually get to the bottom of this, you aren’t getting a ‘yes’ anyway. That kind of request process is sadly indicative of your potential for follow through, and no one wants to waste their efforts or connections on a project they think will never happen.)
You want them instead to focus their mental energy on ways they can help you or why they should say yes, and they can’t do that if they don’t know what you want.
- “I’m ready to start dating again.”
- “I want to be promoted to VP.”
- “I would like a fair system for household chores.”
When we were leaving Antarctica, Warren asked the cruise company directly for a ride on their repositioning trip up north for the Arctic season. He didn’t say “it would be really cool to spend more time on this ship.” The first request got us a free 5-week trip as the trial passengers for a new repositioning cruise package; the vague one would have gotten us only a smile.
How does this fit with the other person’s needs?
Sometimes what you want is to fulfill the other person’s needs – to date, to get the job, to be picked for the team. But even though you think you’re helping them out because you are the best candidate, you are just a wee bit subjective.
Other times, you haven’t even thought about what the other person needs; only how they can help you. (Can you give me a ride/help me move/introduce me to your hot friend?)
Let’s take a step back and think about our basic instincts as humans. We’ve evolved to cooperate for the common good in families, cities, and societies. You can’t go it alone, and neither can anyone else. We have to work together to survive.
When you think of your requests in this cooperative fashion, it makes it easier to see how helping you helps them. And when you know this, you are halfway to yes.
- “You are the queen of matchmaking. I’m a little nervous about dating again, but I trust you to introduce me to some really great people.”
- “You know from experience you can count on me to manage important projects. Imagine how much easier your life will be when I take on more responsibility as VP and start training other managers like me to strengthen our division.”
- “By coming up with a better system for household chores we’ll have more time together as a family and a lot less fighting.”
When we house sit, we don’t talk too much about what we want. What we do instead is focus on how our skills and experience would benefit the homeowner. Yes, we have been homeowners, landlords, and HOA board members before. Yes, we love animals and know you are worried about leaving them. Yes, we know how to handle small emergencies. Yes, we are considerate, quiet, and friendly with neighbors. It’s not about us wanting to live on a houseboat in Amsterdam that’s important; it’s that we know how to manage a cranky cat that the homeowner loves.
How can I make it ridiculously easy for him/her to say yes?
Do the ground work so they don’t have to. Write out the testimonial, list the steps, get the phone numbers…whatever you have to do, do it. The only thing you should be requesting of them is something you cannot do yourself.
Make saying yes easier than the energy it will take for them to say no.
- “I’m throwing a casual BBQ next Saturday and would really appreciate it if you’d come and invite Joe along. I don’t know him well…but I’d like to!”
- “I’ve been thinking of how to backfill my position and hand off my projects, and I wrote up a plan to make it seamless. I’ve groomed some really good people, and I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised by their readiness for the job. I’m always thinking ahead like that.”
- “If we spend $75/week on a housekeeping service we’ll have fewer nights of takeout because we’re tired and a lot less fighting. I’ve crunched the numbers, and it looks like this solution is better for us financially and emotionally. Why have we been putting ourselves through this torture when the solution is so easy?”
One thing authors have to do is promote their work in order to sell it. Magazines, newspapers, and websites are great outlets for us, and we make it ridiculously easy for journalists to work with us. We pitch good story ideas that fit their audiences and include a link to our press kit, which has photos, bios, interview questions and other info they need all in one spot. It’s one reason we get a lot of press – we simply make it easy for people to work with us from the very first email.
Once you’ve secured the ‘yes’ it’s time for the follow through. Make the most of the information or opportunity you were given and respond with a heartfelt thanks and a recap of how this person’s advice/help benefited you.
People deserve thanks for their help, and they appreciate knowing how they impacted your life. Circling back like this cements your connection and gives you the opportunity to repay the favor in the future, further strengthening your bond. This is how strong networks are created over time.
You can use the above steps for simple requests like friending on Facebook and LinkedIn (please don’t use the generic “join my network” emails – if you can’t be bothered to write a personal note, why would someone open up their contacts to you?).
It also works for personal requests, volunteer activities, introductions, business, and even calling a customer service line with a complaint or problem.
How are you making it easy for people to say yes to your requests?
Did you hear our latest podcast on overcoming obstacles? Changing your mindset from “I can’t” to “how can I” will make it easier to ask for help when you need it. Click here to listen or subscribe via iTunes.