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Stop Holding Yourself Back—It’s Time to Go Ask!
The strongest relationships, top sales groups, and most successful organizations have one thing in common: people who have the courage to ask outrageously. This doesn’t mean being obnoxious or taking advantage of people. It means not compromising, taking a risk to get what you know you need, not what you think you can get.
Based on Linda Swindling’s original research and her experience helping people make high-stakes requests in everything from business negotiations to marriage proposals, this book offers proven approaches to improve your asking and boost your chances of success. Whether you are a professional looking for a bigger opportunity, an entrepreneur striving to build a company, a nonprofit seeking funding, or simply a parent or friend wanting a more fulfilling relationship, it’s time to make that big ask! Get ready. Your results will surpass your greatest expectations!
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About the Author
Read an Excerpt
The Secret to Getting What You Really Want
By Linda Byars Swindling
Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc.Copyright © 2017 Linda Byars Swindling
All rights reserved.
Proof You Should Ask Outrageously
There is magic in asking. The people with the best results are those who have the courage to feel the fear and ask anyway. They win more by being willing to push the envelope. They learn to ask for a little more and explore possibilities. They become more comfortable with taking risks and even hearing no.
People in history — from politicians to rock stars to Nobel Peace Prize winners — have had great success making outrageous requests. Having the courage to ask creates unbelievable results. A simple request can challenge injustice in the name of human dignity, generate significant medical advancements, create new ways of doing business, and impact communities. Consider these historic requests.
Rosa Parks asked, "Why do I have to sit at the back of the bus?" and her request led to changing racial segregation laws to protect the rights of all citizens regardless of race.
Louis Pasteur asked, "What causes wine to sour?" — a request that led to the discovery of how to destroy bacteria, which evolved into pasteurization technology to keep food safe.
Mary-Ellis Bunim and Jonathan Murray asked MTV, "Can we create an unscripted television show that follows the life of strangers in a house?" The result led to The Real World and the genre of reality TV. (Arguably, some results are more notable than others.)
There is a snowball effect when you begin to ask outrageously. What may be a simple request often grows into several requests. Asking can evolve into negotiations involving bigger stakes than you thought possible.
Want a secret only those who make high-stakes requests know? Asking outrageously feels the same, no matter the dollar amount or the consequences. The adrenaline rush, the fear, the excitement, the quickening heartbeat, the change in breathing, and the concentrated attention feel the same. And people who ask outrageously receive unbelievable results in all areas of their lives. Often, the most meaningful outcomes are personal ones.
After years of no communication, I called my son and apologized. I asked if we could start over. He let me speak to my grandson for the first time. My grandson is four years old.
I asked my boyfriend when he thought we should get married. He proposed the next week. He had paid for the ring six months ago but didn't think I was ready and was waiting.
I asked my parents if I could borrow the money to make a down payment on a house. Instead of loaning it to me, they gave me the money. They had wanted to help me but didn't know how. I'd still be living in an apartment if I hadn't asked.
Other outrageous outcomes begin with requests that are business related:
I asked my partners if they were willing to expand by opening an office in San Antonio or Austin. They agreed and we opened offices in both cities.
After seventeen years of thinking about it, I approached physicians in other medical practices. I asked if they were interested in how we handled our back office and our methods for collecting payments. That request led to an entirely new business, which has generated millions of dollars.
In the past, a supplier and I did a lot of business together, but we had a falling out. I went to her booth on the trade show floor and asked if we could put our grievances aside and do business again. We just filled our largest order yet.
During a break in the negotiations seminar, I went into the hall and made a call to ask for a reduction in our medical equipment rental fees. We now are paying 30 percent less for the same equipment. I locked down the price for the next three years, and it only took one phone call.
What's Difficult about Asking?
More than 96 percent of those surveyed said they could have improved their results by asking for a little bit more or by taking more of a risk (see Figure 2). Almost a third said they could have increased their results by at least 50 percent. According to the study, the top reasons people hold back or don't ask are:
* * *
This self-monitoring and reluctance to ask prevents you from receiving results well within your grasp. And "overwhelm or bug the person I'm asking" ranks as significantly more difficult than "be told no." Seems odd, right? People would rather be told no than feel they are bothering someone to get what they want.
The Ask Outrageously Study reveals people are worried about the wrong things. For instance, people think their requests are denied because:
* The other person lacks all the information needed.
* The timing is wrong.
* The person I'm asking doesn't want to spend the money.
Actually, the top two reasons people report saying no when approached are that the person making the request:
* Is asking for something that is inappropriate.
* Is someone I don't like, respect, or trust.
News flash: We are focusing on the wrong things. The research shows that there is no correlation between why people say no and why people think they are told no. Most people don't know the true reasons that their requests have been denied.
The primary reason people say no is when a person "is asking for something inappropriate" (with 36 percent reporting it as the primary reason). However, when given the opportunity to select "inappropriate" as a reason their requests are denied, only 4 percent of people thought it was the answer. (See Figure 4.)
To further support this disparity, 31 percent of respondents report saying no if they "don't like, trust, or respect" the person making the request. However, only 5 percent of people think that they're told no because the people they've asked "don't like or respect me."
The study also showed 79 percent of people feel more confident and prepared when they have all the information needed.
What a tremendous disconnect between perception and reality! What good is preparing with all the information needed when you are asking the wrong person for the wrong thing? How does all that research data help when the person you ask doesn't like, respect, or trust you?
What are the consequences of not asking?
Not getting what you want or living with outcomes determined by someone else is draining. Patiently waiting for someone to recognize your talents or give you a break is frustrating for you and those around you. You miss out when you don't ask. Do any of these situations seem familiar?
* You've seen a promotion or your dream job handed to someone without your credentials or experience.
* A coworker is given opportunities to travel or be involved in a project you would love to do.
* You decide a person is too popular or good-looking to date someone like you. And that person ends up dating one of your nerdy friends.
* A friend receives a better hotel room or an upgraded airplane seat. You took what you were assigned.
* Someone else makes a major life decision for you without consulting you.
Not making requests works to your disadvantage in other ways too. When you repeatedly consider making a request and fail to ask, you send the message that you are satisfied. You signal that you're not ready to move forward right now. It's like preparing for a journey and stopping just steps away from your destination. Here's what some of the survey respondents said about their reluctance to ask.
* I wish I had the courage, but being told no cripples me.
* Ninety percent of the time I'd rather go without than to ask for a favor.
* I was taught to be happy with what I have.
By not following through with your request, you never know for sure what is possible. And the people with authority to grant or deny your request have no idea of your preparation or desire to have something different. By not asking, you've removed that person's chance to consider your request and give you an answer.
What if you were brave?
Asking outrageously requires vulnerability and giving up some control. Sometimes you have to risk looking stupid or hearing the word "no." The best results come from minimizing the unknowns, structuring the elements you can control, and then simply having the courage to make your request.
If you are worn out from thinking about requests you don't make, tired of just accepting what you are given, and ready to improve your results, you might want to try asking for what you really do want.
Top Ten Reasons to Ask Outrageously
1. Shockingly good outcomes. It's not unusual for people to ask for something they feel is outrageous and then report the person on the receiving end wasn't shocked at all by the request. Often the person asked is delighted to help or wondered why the request wasn't made sooner.
2. Evidence of passion. When you clearly show your interest, it is contagious. People will know you are engaged and invested in getting better results. By asking, you indicate that you know what you want, are ready for a change, and want to achieve big goals.
3. Powerful appearance. People who make bold requests improve their chances of being heard. By asking powerful questions, you improve your ability to influence and show confidence, no matter what the subject.
4. Receive an answer. By asking, you obtain a reply, even if it's "no" or "not yet." With an answer to your request, you can adjust, adapt, and move ahead. You can save time, resources, and mental effort. Most importantly, you stop wondering what could be if only you had the courage to ask.
5. Build trust. When you request what you want up front, people stop searching for your hidden agenda. Others want to help you more because they trust you more.
6. Level the playing field. Asking questions helps decrease any real or perceived power imbalances. Instead of accepting what is presented, asking questions lets people know you do your homework and are prepared to debate if needed.
7. Avoid wasting time. Asking allows you to avoid spending time with the wrong people. You'll quickly determine who can and will assist you in achieving the outcomes you want.
8. Receive more than requested. When you find the courage to ask outside your comfort zone, you discover the limitations you imagined aren't always real. Asking allows you to maximize the possibilities and gives you more options.
9. Feel fantastic. Perhaps the most remarkable result is how people feel after they ask. When you feel the fear and ask anyway, you gain confidence and a greater sense of worth.
10. Earn respect. People enjoy dealing with others who encourage them to think bigger. People with high potential want leadership models who successfully take risks, impact others, make effective decisions, and exceed expectations.
Make Asking a Habit
Condition yourself to ask outside your comfort zone on a regular basis. Start with safe requests. Ask for more in your personal life and watch your results improve in business too. And get comfortable with the word "no." In fact, if you are not hearing no, you are probably not asking for enough. Keep asking until you get the no.
When you concentrate on making requests as a habit, asking becomes second nature. If you can become more comfortable asking everywhere, you'll ask when it really counts. In the heat of a big request, you will achieve results others can't conceive at the time. Stay open to receiving results that surpass your greatest expectations.
Lead Others to Ask
Ask the people you are leading or coaching to take the free assessment "How Well Do You Ask?" (page 18) or online at AskOutrageously.com. Review the results of their assessment and the Top Ten Reasons to Ask Outrageously (page 26). Ask them, "Where would you like to focus on asking for more?" "What reasons resonated the most with you?" and "What results would be possible if asking became a habit?"
* Simple questions in history have led to outrageous outcomes.
* Most people don't ask. They wish they had the nerve to ask for something big but don't ask or settle for something safe. They wait too long to ask and watch someone else ask and get what they really wanted. They feel stuck when it is time to move on or advance.
* There is a disconnect between why people think they are told no and why they are actually told no. The success of your request is not just about gathering more information, timing, and funds.
* Your precise word choice, fear of bothering someone, or looking foolish should not be your primary concerns.
* Improve your outcomes by focusing on the real reasons people are told no, which are 1) the request is inappropriate; and 2) the person being asked doesn't like, respect, or trust the person making the request.
* You can increase your wins and improve your results by asking outside your comfort zone. When you concentrate on making requests as a habit, asking becomes second nature.
* What would I ask for if I were brave?
* What am I unsatisfied with at work or home?
* When I fail to ask, what message am I sending?
* How can I develop trust and respect from the person I'm asking?
* If you haven't taken the assessment "How Well Do You Ask?" (page 18), please take it now. Then look at the results to determine your current skill level.
* Look through the "Top Ten Reasons to Ask Outrageously" (page 26). Identify the top two reasons that resonate with you.
Secret Success Tools
Download the song "If I Were Brave" by Jana Stanfield and Jimmy Scott for free at AskOutrageously.com.CHAPTER 2
Show Up Powerfully
Knowing how others view you is important when making powerful requests. Your family and your friends know the "real" you. However, when you are asking others, there is a good chance you are meeting for the first time.
A few brave souls can ask confidently without assigning much significance to being turned down or how others think of them. One out of five of the study participants reported they have no difficulties asking anyone for what they want. Here are some of their responses to asking outrageously.
I have no problem asking for what I want in a business setting ... most people will answer anything I ask, even if it doesn't pertain to the specific request.
The worst response you can get is a no, so why not ask?
I know to start asking questions even if I'm not sure what the right question is. Opening the dialogue often takes me in unexpected directions and to answers I didn't know I wanted.
You may live with a courageous asker. Often, family members, even very young ones, are convincing and tenacious. Think of children who really want a toy or a treat. Their ability to connect, stay the course, and ask questions is entertaining. The word "no" doesn't intimidate them. They concentrate on what they want and are persistent in their pursuit. Master requesters know requests are situational and can vary depending on the people and issues involved. They consider the best methods to relate to the person who has power and change their approach as needed. They are curious and very creative in asking an unlimited supply of questions. And they are successful more often than not.
Without reservation, they ask for a little more. They ask for better terms or greater outcomes. Observe them as they ask for information, favors, or special treatment. No one intimidates them. No request is too small or too large. They know the more they ask, the more they can learn or gain. While others are gathering unnecessary data or waiting for perfect conditions, master requesters make an initial request and move on to ask elsewhere.
Often their success in business can be tied to a willingness to ask for what others won't. They are respected. People are willing to answer their questions and go the extra mile to help them. Study the masters. Watch people who bravely make requests and follow their lead.
How do you show up?
When you meet a stranger, what would be his or her initial impression of you? Your initial impression goes beyond how stylishly you're dressed or if your hair looks great that day. Do you portray confidence, trust, and approachability? Master requesters know exactly how they show up the first time. Through the years, they have listened to feedback and observed techniques that work. These masters recognize when they appear intimidating and take action to lighten the conversation. They know if they seem young or inexperienced, and they choose whether to correct or use that perception. They make a conscious effort to be approachable and to help others feel comfortable.
Approachability goes beyond professional attire and a wellgroomed look. An approachable person:
* Smiles and makes eye contact.
* Has a firm handshake and is polite.
* Helps others feel comfortable and heard.
* Develops an engaging presentation style.
* Consciously uses positive body language.
* Uses proper grammar, spelling, and language.
* Responds in a timely
* Responds in a timely manner to emails, phone calls, and other communication.
Excerpted from Ask Outrageously! by Linda Byars Swindling. Copyright © 2017 Linda Byars Swindling. Excerpted by permission of Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Introduction: Ask Outrageously! 1
How to Get Outrageous Results from This Book 11
No Difficulties Asking? Why You Still Need This Book
Assessment: How Well Do You Ask? 18
1 Proof You Should Ask Outrageously 19
What's Difficult about Asking
Top Ten Reasons to Ask Outrageously
2 Show Up Powerfully 31
Identify Your Strengths
Strategies to Convey Confidence
3 The Right Focus 45
Why You Need to Get Over Yourself
Prepare to Ask Boldly
4 What's in It for Them? 53
The Importance of Timing
5 Trust and Respect 71
"What" and "How" Questions
6 Ask Everywhere-All the Time 93
Talk to Strangers
Raises and Promotions
7 Blocks 113
The ASK Strategy
How to Banish Blocks
8 Asking for Others 127
Self-interest versus Selfishness
9 Authority 139
Dealing with Decision Makers
You Need Help-and How to Get It
10 Tailor Your Ask 153
The DEAL Strategy
Your Communication Bias
11 Calm under Pressure 175
Out of the Ordinary Requests
Ask Away or Walk Away
12 Outrageous Results 197
Best Practices of Master Requesters
A Final Note 209
Resources: Secret Success Tools 211
About the Author 227