I remember several years ago I was in a real jam. I was in LA at a major event where I was to present on stage that evening.
And the suit I was to wear was a real mess with stains from a drink someone spilled on me at a different event the day before.
I ran downstairs and asked Louise, the concierge, if the hotel could clean and press it… before my presentation that evening. I had no time to take care of it myself.
Louise first chuckled and said, they did not offer same day dry cleaning services. And there was no way they could do this for me.
I not only got the hotel to do it for me, but they were glad to have helped.
Here are the 4 steps in asking UnReasonable requests in most business and personal situations, and have the person want to help you:
Step 1: Acknowledge You Are About to Ask an UnReasonable Request
Begin by letting the person know that you are about to ask a request out of the ordinary.
That it is not something you would normally ask and/or not something they would normally grant or accept. For example, you want to ask Frank, who is very well connected in your industry, to refer a client to you. The challenge is you do not know Frank very well. In fact you just met him recently.
It is crucial to address Frank’s skepticism before it addresses you.
For example, you say, “Frank, I know we just met recently and you probably do not feel comfortable doing what I am about to ask you. In fact, I know I probably would not either.”
Step 2: Make It Easy For Them to Say “No”
By eliminating the pressure of them feeling they will disappoint you if they do not comply, you are opening them up to really listen to what you are asking them to do.
Successfully done, you have gotten them to drop their guard.
The key here is to do this authentically. If you do this insincerely, it might become very uncomfortable for both of you.
In our example with Frank, you might say something like, “And I absolutely do not want you to feel uncomfortable or go to any trouble in doing this for me. It is really OK if you tell me it is too much to ask of you.”
Step 3: Give Them a Good Reason to Grant Your Request
By understanding the impact of granting your request helps them want to assist you.
Everyone wants to feel appreciated for helping others. Be authentic and sincere in how their help would impact your life.
In our example with Frank: “But if you could it would help me get a serious start in the New York City market, and I will always remember you for that.”
More than likely Frank is now really intrigued on what it is I would like him to do.
Step 4: Clearly Ask What You Want
Simply ask what you would like from them.
You then ask Frank, “I would love it if you could refer me to a great potential client in New York that I can use your name when calling.”
In my experience, 9 out of 10 times they will do the favor or at least counter offer with something else they will do instead.
Back to my hotel experience. I was really in a bind and here is what I said:
“Louise, I am in a real jam and I know I am about to ask you an UnReasonable request. And I completely understand it is not your problem nor responsibility to help me.
“In fact, if it gets you into trouble or puts you in a bind, please do not do it.
“But if you could find a way to do it, you will help me hit a home run on my big presentation I have in a few hours. And I would be most grateful.
“Do you think you could find a way to get my suit dry cleaned and back to me before tonight?”
Before I knew it Louise had the hotel manager calling my cell phone telling me, “Don’t worry Mr. Doering, I’d be happy to take care of this for you.”
And then he personally drove my suit to a local dry cleaner and back in perfect shape… in 3 hours!
So the next time you an UnReasonable request, I suggest you try these four steps. You most likely will be happy with the results.
Action Steps for the Week
What request have you been delaying in making because you feel it is not realistic? That one you really want to make and have been procrastinating on.
Take that request and determine how to present it to the person you need to speak to about it. Remember to acknowledge it being UnReasonable and give them permission to say “no” if they need to.
Perhaps you can do “role playing” with someone to practice it first.
Then make a point to ask the request this week. And you most likely will be surprised in the results.