From small favours (“Could you cover for me on the conference call tomorrow?”) to the more onerous (“Can you please introduce me to your contact at Nike?”), we are all in the habit of asking one another for help. When you are asking for a favour, here are the three key steps to keep in mind:
Set the stage
The phrase “I have a favour to ask you” is a small but powerful thing;it suggests an informal contract of sorts. Taking time to acknowledge that your request is indeed a favour and not just a given implies a two-way relationship that acknowledges some level of give and take, as opposed to just making the other person feel like they’re being taken for a ride.
Give a reason
In Robert Cialdini’s iconic book ‘Influence’, he showed that if you ask someone to do you a favour, you have better luck when providing a reason; people react positively to the word “because”. Even if the reason makes no sense or is unrelated to the request, people like to know why they’re being asked to do something.
Provide an escape clause
After making your request, be sure to add the following quickly:
•If you can’t help out, I completely understand, but I thought I’d ask.
•I’d love an introduction to Katherine, but if you don’t feel comfortable passing along her information for any reason, that’s okay.