THE ART OF ASKING FOR FAVORS

Have you ever noticed how children waste no time asking for those things they want?
<?xml:namespace prefix = o /> "Ma, can I have a cookie?" "Ma, can Perry sleep-over?" "Dad, can I have ten dollars? Well, how about just one.?"
 At this point, you may find yourself telling your child, "Why is it you never talk to Daddy or me unless you want something? That's not nice. Try having a conversation-- taking an interest in your parents who love you-- for a change, and you will probably get more out of us."
 "Oh, okay. Hi, Ma, hi, Dad, nice day...can I get a dog?"
 Regarding asking for something, if children are viewed as, jumping in with both feet before thinking, adults may frequently demonstrate, thinking too much and cold feet.
 By the time we become adults, many of us have been conditioned to believe that asking for a favor is presumptuous; that you really don't deserve to impose on someone; that you appear foolish (what if she says, "no?") or feel embarrassed; or that you become indebted to that person and feel uncomfortable in his or her presence. So we consider it a sign of "maturity" when a child stops asking for things. Unfortunately, withholding requests for things or favors can be problematic-- even for mature adults!
 Bill J., a young attorney, had started his own law office because he didn't like working for anyone else. He had a substantial caseload, but the business overhead was killing him, financially. He thought of asking an old family friend to share office expenses with him, but then dismissed the idea, believing that man to be too successful on his own, after years in practice, to have interest in such a venture. Not wanting to appear foolish, Bill just struggled along, saying nothing.
 Wanda G. wanted to become a commercial artist, but lacked formal training in her field. Lacking the confidence that anyone would hire her and feeling reluctant to apply, she contented herself with doing free projects for volunteer groups.
 Bill and Wanda both share a limitation in which they failed to ask for what they wanted. Bill lacked the confidence to approach the older attorney, feeling he might appear foolish to the latter. Wanda lacked the confidence in her present skills and abilities to ask for a job, believing that to someone else the request could only be granted as a "favor." If you face a similar situation, you can learn to ask for what you want without believing it foolish or presumptuous.
 A useful approach involves turning the "favor" into a mutually beneficial arrangement. Look at your situation in terms of facts and figures. What exactly is the problem? What do you need in order to remedy it? What can you offer in return? Bill did a cash flow analysis and found that he needed to cut business expenses by thirty-percent in order to make a reasonable living. To accomplish this, he could offer a well-furnished office, good location and the services of an experienced secretary. Wanda perceived her problem to be a lack of formal training. She assembled a portfolio of her volunteer artwork and asked for critiques and letters of recommendation from various project leaders. A further indication of her commitment, she enrolled in a night class. Now she had tangible evidence of her commitment to art. She also decided to seek employment, simultaneous with her course work, as a "trainee", at a reduced salary.
 Preparation made the task easier for both Bill and Wanda. Bill's colleague wasn't interested in the office for himself, but knew of another attorney in semi-retirement who jumped at the idea of a seventy-percent cut in his own expenses. Wanda approached a fledgling company that could not afford a highly-trained and experienced artist and was willing to take a chance.
 Try turning your own needed favors into mutually beneficial arrangements. Then, instead of asking, you may be offering something to someone, who can share in the benefits. Your tenuous position of "need" will become one of strength, and the chance for success may be high.