To Improve Your Ask, Say Why

You're in a queue to buy a train ticket. If you don't buy your ticket in the next 3 minutes you will miss your train. You need to find a way to be served next.

Which of these would most likely get you a place at the front of the queue?

  1. "Please could I jump the queue and go before you?"

  2. "I'm about to miss my train. Please could I jump the queue and go before you?"

  3. "If I don't get this train I'm going to be late for an interview that could change my life. Please could I jump the queue and go before you?"

Naturally, 3 will work better than 2. 2 will work better than 1.

It's simple. If you need something from someone, you can massively improve your chances of success if you explain why.

It's a wonder why so many people forget this when they get to work. I think it's because in the examples above we are relying purely on a social exchange to get what we need. At work, we are in a transactional environment, people of being paid to do what other people ask, heirachy and power plays interfere - this means we sometimes get lazy with our asks.

Give me a reason and I'll be more likely to do it.

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