“It never hurts to ask.”
We often hear that said. But is it true? Recently someone asked me for a favor. The request came in an impersonal form e-mail. I had some business dealings with this person many years ago. Since then, I had heard from them only once when they asked another favor.
I was being asked to promote something on my social media network. The request did not offer an excerpt, a preview, a sample or any compelling reason why I should offer my assistance and ping the people on my e-mail list.
I thought, “Why should I help?” The implied assumption that I owed this individual something, or that I should help for no reason other than that they asked, seemed a bit off-putting. Have I helped an unfamiliar person before? Yes, there have been circumstances where I was glad to do so. But “Do this for me because our paths crossed” is not a good reason. Sometimes it does hurt to ask. Sometimes it comes across as inappropriate or entitled. Asking someone for a favor when you have no relationship with them is a bad idea. Naturally, most people like to help — but very few people like to waste their time or energy. And nobody likes to feel someone has taken advantage of them.
There’s nothing wrong with asking for a favor or assistance. Just make sure you ask the right person for the right reason in the right way. Otherwise, you might damage your reputation and your relationships.
Mark Sanborn, CSP, CPAE, is president of Sanborn & Associates, Inc., an idea studio dedicated to developing leaders in business and in life. Mark
is an international best-selling author and noted authority on leadership, team-building, customer service and change. Mark is the author of 8 books, including the best seller The Fred Factor: How Passion in Your Work and Life Can Turn the Ordinary into the Extraordinary, which has sold more than 1.6 million copies internationally. Learn more about Mark at www.marksanborn.com.