The phrase “I have a favor to ask you” is a small but powerful thing,
The phrase “I have a favor to ask you” is a small but powerful thing, it suggests an informal contract of sorts; if you help me now, I’ll get you back you later.
The extra second or two heads-up extends a courtesy to the person to think about the request. Without this, you run the risk of sounding like a command. Taking time to acknowledge that your request is indeed a favor and implies a two-way relationship that acknowledges some level of give and take.
- Set the Stage: “I have a favor to ask you…” (this short phrase gives time to think about the request)
- Give a Reason: Use the very effective word; "because"
- Provide an Escape Clause: “If you can’t help out, I completely understand”
In the famous psychologist Robert Cialdini’s iconic book Influence, he showed that if you ask someone to do you a favor, you have much better luck when providing a reason; people react positively to the word “because.” Even if the reason makes no sense people like to know why they’re being asked to do something. When the word because is used, the request is almost always granted.
Quickly extend yet another courtesy after making your request by adding something like: “If you can’t help out, I completely understand.” This shows gratitude and that maximizes your chances of getting what you want. Presumably, you will pay it forward at some point along the way.
Your goal is twofold; to get what you ask for and to do it in a way that enables the other person to feel good about helping out. A win-win!
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