Perfect the “Art of Asking”

Perfect the “Art of Asking”

A key part of getting what you want is knowing how to ask for it. And, there are various ideas and strategies that are important in making certain you express yourself clearly and persuasively. Here are nine rules to bear in mind that will help you perfect “The Art of Asking.”
1. Before you ask, know what you want or need.
This is a critical first step. Think about precisely what you want before you even say word one.
Unsuccessful “askers” often forgo this important step. Instead, they launch into a messy “foot-in-mouth-first” approach – adding very confusing dialogue and indecision in their speech. In a vain attempt to get what they need, this type of “asker” ends up confusing their audience.
2. Don’t ask for what you don’t want.
Another messy situation occurs when “askers” communicate what they don’t want rather than what they do want.
For instance, instead of saying, “I would like to have this Sunday off,” they say, “I don’t want to work this Sunday.” Or rather than saying, “I’d like you to complete these forms,” they say, “I don’t want you to forget to fill out these forms.”
Here the listener’s attention is drawn to negativity, making it more difficult for him to respond in a positive manner.
3. Know whom to ask.
Make sure to direct your request to the right person. For instance, if you need help with a technical issue, talk to a tech specialist rather than the person in the next cubicle over.
If a chain of command exists, it’s a good idea to follow that. And, while you’re thinking about whom to approach, ask yourself if you can get what you need without asking anyone at all. Considering these two issues will save you and others time and frustration.
4. Know when to ask.
There are, in fact, more appropriate times than others to make a request. First, consider whether it would be better to ask in private or with others nearby. Some people get flustered when a private matter is discussed in public.
Consider, too, whether someone is stressed or relatively calm. That can also effect how they may respond.
5. Don’t overexplain or justify.
Rather, keep your request clear, focused and concise.
6. Don’t demand.
Saying “I have to have the day off” is a surefire way to guarantee defeat.
7. Don’t threaten.
Saying things such as, “If you don’t give me the day off, then I’ll…” also means surefire failure.
8. Don’t whine.
“You never let me head up these meetings. Why is it that…” It didn’t work when you were four years old and it’s no more effective now.
9. Know that “yes” means “yes.
“Once you hear yes, say thank you and leave. This is not a time to launch into more justification or explanation.
You asked for it–now you got it! By following these nine simple rules, you’ll be well on your way to refining your “art of asking.”
Your prescription: Let’s put it all together! The next time you ask someone for something, draw up a checklist that includes all nine rules. Rehearse how you’re going to ask. Use this list to ensure your request is delivered in the most effective way possible.
Do You Speak Assertively?

Do You Speak Assertively?

If you want to put your relationships onto a more assertive footing, and earn more respect from others (while at the same time, showing your respect for them also), there’s no better way to do it than with the following techniques:
1. “I” Messages, Not “You” Messages
When we use “You” messages, as in “You make me angry” or “You made me do that”, we disown our feelings, make others responsible for how we feel, and, for good measure, pass judgment on their behaviour. It’s no surprise that “you” messages are called “poison phrases”. In Assertiveness, “you” messages are replaced by “I” messages. “I” messages dispassionately describe the feelings we have and the event that caused these feelings. We own them and don’t blame others.
Not: “You make me so angry when you turn up late.”But: “I feel angry when you turn up late.”
2. Describe, don’t evealuate
When we talk about ourselves and others, we often use evaluations without thinking: “She’s so clever!”; “He’s so rude!”; “I’m such a fool!” Evaluations are value judgments. They unwittingly praise or condemn at a stroke. Assertive people avoid evaluative words and phrases. They know the difference between who people are and what they do. They may condemn what people do, but they never condemn who people are.
Not: “He’s so absent-minded!”But: “He turns up late to our meetings about twice a week.”
3. Specific, not generalized words
When we want to make a strong point to others, we often exaggerate or generalize. “You’re always leaving the lid off the toothpaste” is not likely to be factually true, but it expresses how strongly we feel. A more honest approach is to use specific statements. These are accurate, less likely to lead to arguments and, because they specify the problem, make it easier to find solutions.Instead of the universal and generalized statement: “You don’t love me,” be specific and say what you want: “When you come home from work, I’d love it if we could stop and have a cuddle now and again.”
4. “Just” and “only”
We often allow the words “just” and “only” to slip into our everyday language to show how little we think of someone or something eg “He’s only a waiter” or “It’s just a scratch”. This can sometimes be interpreted as a put-down. Instead, avoid the words altogether and see the difference you make.
5. Fogging
“Fogging” is an assertive way of dealing with dishonest or indirect put-downs from others. In “fogging”, you treat the put-down as serious, pick out and agree with any truth in what is said and at the same time show the other person your refusal to rise to the bait of their sarcasm.
Boss: (as you arrive late for the second time this week): “I see the train’s running late again, then!”You: “Yes, that’s twice this week and it’s made me late on both occasions. I’m going to have to re-think my travel arrangements if this continues.”
6. Broken record
“Broken record” takes its name from a stuck gramophone record. It is a technique for repeating over and over what you want when someone refuses to listen. It can be used when someone is making a demand on you that you don’t want to accept, or you are trying to make a point to someone else that they don’t want to accept. Because broken record depends on a repetition of your point, it is easy for your words and actions to become heated and possibly aggressive. Because of this, make sure that you let others know that you are listening to them, that you accept their right to an opinion, but that you are not going to be deflected from what you want.
7. Constructive feedback
Giving people feedback is one of the defining functions of managers. You can give two kinds of feedback: complimentary or critical. The danger in being too complimentary is that the receivers become complacent; the danger in being too critical is that the receivers take offence. You can avoid both these traps by using Constructive Feedback.
Constructive Feedback tells people what you liked about something they did as well as what you didn’t like. It is essentially an assertive way of paying a compliment while also offering a view on how someone might change. Constructive Feedback only gives your views about someone’s behaviour, not about them as individuals. When delivered successfully, it makes people feel good and helps them move forward.
Many of the arguments between people arise through the inappropriate or incorrect use of language. By checking what we say, and finding more honest means of expression, we can move in one leap from rubbing people up the wrong way to stroking them with respect and care.