May 18, 2017

Don't Ask—Don't Get

If there's one thing I realized recently is that if you don't ask for something you want, chances are, you ain't getting it any time soon.

This is something I've been teaching my kids.

And every single time I forget about this principle and just assume that people will somehow guess what I would like from them, I get reassured why I should never, ever, never-ever forget this principle ever again.

Let's face it.

Most people are not preoccupied with thoughts that revolve around figuring out the one thing that would make you happy right now. 

I'm not saying they don't care about you. 

Some do.

But it's your job to make it easier for them to make you happy. 

It's your job to tell them what you want from them.

Even in situations that have little to do with expecting others to make you happy, such as disputes and contract negotiations, it's your job to not only know exactly what you want from the other side but also to let that other side know about it.

Being upset in the hope that someone to whom you're demonstrating your discontent will miraculously figure out the solution that would make you happy almost never works. 

In fact, it just makes you even more upset. 

Because now you're upset about the original problem AND also the inability of the other side to make you happy.

But chances are, the other side is not going to do anything about you being upset until you tell them you're upset and, most importantly, provide suggestions how they could make it up to you.

If you haven't tried telling people exactly what you'd like from them—try it. You'll be surprised how well it works.

And it makes it easier for them, too.

Remember I said, I was teaching this to my kids.

One way we did it was when we were all driving in my car.

Masha would say, "Daddy, can I please listen to this song?"

And I'd answer, "Sure!"

But I wouldn't do anything about it.

In a few seconds, she would ask again, "Daddy, I would like to listen to this song. Can I?"

And I would say, "Of course! No problem..."

But I would still not turn on the stereo.

This could go on a few times until she would ask, "Daddy, can you please turn on my song?"

And then, I'd immediately turn it on.

Do you see the difference between "I would like to listen to the song" and "Please turn on my song"?

Most people ask questions of the first kind and they never get what they expect.

Try asking more questions of the second type. You'll be surprised how well it works.

P.S. In case you're wondering why I posted this photo at the top of this article, I have an explanation for you.

This photo was taken at one of the receptions in Barcelona a few days ago. As part of the annual International Trademark Association meeting, there are dozens of parties and receptions every night. 

This one was organized by a German law firm, Meissner Bolte.

It was one of the finest receptions this year. 

They even had a band all dressed up Bavarian style.

The moment I saw the band, I had this idea that I would really like a photograph with the conductor. But not just any photo. I wanted to hold the horn.

No, I don't play the horn.

I play the drums.

But that's outside the point.

I just thought that a photo of me holding the horn would be the perfect end of the night.

And guess what, I knew that no one else in that room knew my thoughts. 

I knew that unless I ask them specifically that I wanted to hold the horn in the photo, I would not have a photo of me holding the horn.

Well, I did the only thing that could get me that photograph.

I asked.

And now I have it!