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Pearls of Life

(21) Pearls of Life

Positive Thinking Is A Stupid Waste Of Time

PL21

Get the Timing Right

Getting what you want can be a long-term plan. I know someone who has just spent five years restoring a classic boat, while living on it in the cold and wet, and now finally (and deservedly) has a fabulous and comfortable home that is, at last, sufficiently watertight to float. He knew from the start that what he wanted would take five years, and it did. You may have some minor wants that can be satisfied quickly and easily, but most of the big plans and dreams take longer. So you know well in advance that you’re going to need things from other people. When you think through how you’re going to go about achieving this, think about when you’re going to approach them. Your partner may always go through a period of stress at a particular time of year when several contracts come up for renewal-so that’s not going to be the best time to ask for extra support.

Similarly, don’t approach your boss for a pay raise the month after a salary review, or when the last quarter’s figures have just come in and are particularly depressing-even if you’re the only one keeping them afloat. Much better to ask in the days or weeks after you clinch a lucrative deal.

You make it far easier for people to support you if you approach them when the time suits them, and not just you. So consider things from their perspective, and fit your schedule around them as far as you can.

Tell Them What You Want Without Asking

OK, I said on the cover of this book that you could get what you wanted without having to ask. And you can-perhaps not always but most of the time. However, if you need someone else to give it to you, you may need to let them know that you want it. Without asking. The simplest way to do this, blindingly obvious as it is, is just to say that you want it. No asking. So you can let your boss know at your appraisal that you see yourself moving up the career ladder swiftly, or that you see yourself working ultimately on the PR side of marketing. Next time an opportunity arises for a promotion or new responsibilities; they’ll know you’re interested already. So if they think you have a chance, they’ll come to you.

You can similarly let your friends and out-of-work colleagues know what your aims are. When someone else gets invited to join the board of trustees of the local charity you support, you can say, “Good for them. I’d love to do that.” Someone listening who might not have considered you may well make a mental note for next time.

Let your father know about your friend who always takes her sister on vacation to help with the kids. Tell him, “I think that’s such a good idea. It must be a huge help to have an extra adult there.” Maybe he’ll offer before you need to ask. If someone’s in a position to help you, and they’d like to support you, why wouldn’t they offer? I’ll tell you why: Because they have no idea that you want it. Apparently one survey of single people found that 98 percent of respondents would like their friends to help find them a new partner, but four out of five had never actually let their friends know this.

Don’t Keep Dropping Hints

Letting people know what you want (without asking) is a really sensible strategy. But while saying outright “I’d like that” or “What a great idea; I could do with one of those” is a sensible approach, it’s not a good idea to keep dropping notsosubtle hints.

I had an aunt who used to do this. “Oh, if only I could spend Christmas with family. It must be so lovely.” “You’re so lucky to have such nice friends. No one ever asks me to dinner.” The fact is that this used to irritate us all so much that we deliberately ignored the hints. They had a whiny, emotional blackmail quality about them that we just refused to be sucked in by. If she’d just asked straight, “Can I come for Christmas?” we’d probably have said yes. Or indeed if she’d let us know she’d like to come and then shut up about it. No one wants to be pestered, especially in an indirect manner. So if you’re going for the “don’t ask, just let them know what you want” approach, you need to say it once and then let it alone. Maybe-if you’re not sure they got the message-you can mention it again a few months later, or you can mention it in front of somebody else. That’s it. It’s a useful approach if you don’t want to ask (and sometimes even if you don’t mind asking) but it’s not one you can overuse and get away with it. Listen, the last thing you want to do is irritate your potential benefactor. So make sure you’re being straight about letting them know what you want, and then letting it drop. Avoid, at all costs, the manipulative hint-dropping thing because you’ll just alienate people that way.

Make It Hypothetical

A variation on letting them know what you want is to express what you want hypothetically. This is no more (or less) likely to achieve the aim. The point is that it’s a direct, straightforward, and honest way of asking, which you might find easier than actually asking. It comes across as being far less pushy-because it doesn’t require the other person to give you a yes or no answer-so if you are remotely under-assertive, it may appeal to you. Here’s how it goes:

“If ever you were thinking of selling that piece of land, I might be interested.”

“If a job came up in the PR department, I’d really love the opportunity to apply for it.”

“If you need another trustee on the board in future, I’d love to be more involved.”

If you’re feeling brave you can turn it around and request a hypothetical answer:

“If I could find an evening class to learn another language, do you think you might babysit one night a week?”

“If we find the perfect house and it’s just a bit over our budget, is there any chance you and mom might help us meet the difference?”

 “If Sarah does transfer to the Manchester branch, could I be considered as her replacement?”

This version does require some kind of response, but you’re sounding the other person out rather than asking directly. And it can give you a lot of useful information to help toward getting what you want.

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(22) Pearls of Life

Give a like for good questions!

PL22

Ask Questions

Here’s another way to ask without actually having to ask. You simply ask the other person what she’d do in your position. How would she achieve the thing you’re after? It’s quite likely that she’ll realize that your best bet is to get her to help and, if you’ve laid the groundwork making yourself someone she’d like to say yes to, there’s a good chance she’ll offer.

So you could ask your boss how she’d go about getting into PR if she were in your position. How would she achieve it? Or tell your mom you find holidays so exhausting with four kids that you’re not sure you can face going away. What should you do?

Be careful not to sound as if you’re deliberately manipulating them into offering to help. That will irritate them and thus deter them. You really are asking for advice, because if they suggest something you haven’t thought of, that could genuinely be helpful even if it doesn’t entail those offering practical help themselves.

Ask for Advice Instead of a Job

Here’s an effective technique for getting a job in a new organization, or a first job, or a position in a voluntary sector organization. As a matter of fact, this strategy got me my first proper job.

Suppose you want to work in a particular field that’s new to you, or in a certain organization, and you want to meet the person who could give you that job. The fact is that if you write or email and ask to go and see someone because you want them to give you work, they’ll almost certainly say no. No one likes to turn down a job applicant, and it’s easier to turn down the initial request for a meeting.

So you don’t ask for a job. In fact, you specify that you’re not asking for a job. You say something along the lines of, “I realize you don’t have any vacancies at

moment, but I’d hugely appreciate your advice on how to get into the industry/organization.” Of course you then explain why you want to work in that field so much, and why you want his advice in particular.

Few people can resist flattery, especially when it’s sincere. And without the pressure of having to turn you down, most people will agree to meet so you can pick their brains. Actually, however, if they decide that you’ve got all the passion and brains and commitment and knowledge and expertise they want, why wouldn’t they offer you a job? If not now, then as soon as they have a suitable vacancy? Or they’d recommend someone else to approach, and put in a word or let you use their name. If they like you and think you have what it takes, they’ll want to help you, and they’ll have the power to do it.

Get Someone to Do the Asking for You

If you don’t want to have to ask, why not get someone else to do it for you? No this won’t always work, but it often can. Either you get them to ask directly, or you get them to sound out the other person so you know their likely response.

It’ll be much easier to go on and ask for yourself if you already know they’re going to say yes.

Thank you, yes, I have noticed the deliberate mistake. You’ll still have to ask the person who’s doing the asking. I do realize that. Which is why this tactic is for those occasions when it’s easy to ask the go-between? I’m assuming you can ask some people to do some things-it’s just the big stuff you struggle with. Presumably you can ask the dog to sit, or ask your partner to pass the milk, or your kids to put on their shoes. So you need to get someone you can ask to do the bit that you don’t feel comfortable with. )So don’t ask your kids to see if your boss will give you a pay raise, or the dog to sound out the bank manager about a loan).

Maybe your sister can talk to your mother about going on vacation with you, so you can have a bit more of a rest from the kids. Perhaps your manager can ask his boss if you’d be able to work from home a couple of days a week. Maybe your best friend can ask that girl you like whether she’d go on a date with you?

This approach has an added advantage in that it implies the go-between is on your side. Why else would they ask for you? And the other person is more likely to give the matter serious thought if you’ve got support.

Tell Them You Need Them

Ooh but people do like to be flattered. I’ve said it before. And I’ll repeat that any flattery must be sincere. Lots of people respond remarkably well to feeling needed, and if it’s true, the flattery isn’t hollow.

If you need someone, why not say so? It will give them a warm feeling, and help them to realize that if they don’t help you, the job of supporting you won’t just be passed on to the next person because there isn’t a next person. You’re relying on her. That should focus her mind a bit. Help her to say yes.

Just one thing here-this is another of those times when you have to be sure not to emotionally blackmail the other person. You’re not trying to make him feel guilty about you-you just want him to know that he’s important to your plans. If you tip over into implying that if he doesn’t help you all your hopes and dreams will be cruelly dashed, that’s emotional blackmail and he won’t like it. What’s more, if he has any sense, he won’t help you.

The clue to the difference is in the word “emotional.” If you tell him matter-of-factly that you need his help, and then don’t whine about it, you’re fine. If you allow emotion into the proceedings-being whiny or pathetic or telling him how if he doesn’t help you’ll suffer this or that-that’s when you’ve gone too far. Especially if you keep going on about it.

 

 

 

 

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(23) Pearls of Life

The Key To Thinking Positive

PL23

Don’t Rush Them

I had a boss once who had a great line for preventing people from pressuring him. If ever you tried to push him into a decision about anything he’d say, “If you want an answer now, it’s no.” That was really helpful, actually, brusque as it sounded, because he could easily have just said no without letting on that you might have got a yes if you’d waited. That’s what lots of people do, sometimes without really recognizing that they’re doing it.

The fact is that, for most decisions, no is a safer answer than yes. It simply maintains the status quo-how much trouble can you create just by declining someone’s request? Very little. Whereas saying yes could lead to all sorts of hassle and ramifications and difficulties and unpleasantness.

You really can’t afford to say yes unless you’ve had plenty of time to think through all the possible consequences. And if you’re not being given that time-if you’re being put under pressure for an answer-it’s much safer to say no. Not to mention quicker and easier and gets the whole thing off your back.

So if you want to help the other person says yes to you, it’s really important not to rush them into a decision.

If they’re really dragging their feet to the point where it’s causing problems, try asking them when they’ll be able to give you an answer. That doesn’t pressure them but lets you know where you stand.

As a complete aside here, I would just remark that this is a brilliant answer to give other people when you don’t want them rushing you. I find it works very well with kids, who try to catch you in an unguarded moment to ask for things you’re not sure they should have. Try saying “If you want an answer now, its no” to a teenager, and suddenly they’re happy for you to take all the time you need to think about it.

Give Them What They Want

It would be lovely if everyone in this world was filled with altruism and love of humankind. Well, some of them are of course, but even they still have personal wants, too. So give them something in exchange for saying yes.

I don’t mean a bunch of flowers or a box of chocolates-although there are times when that may be appropriate. I mean before they’ve said yes. Let them know that helping you will benefit them in some way.

No, I’m not talking about bribery. I’m not suggesting you slip your boss a brown envelope full of cash in exchange for putting your name forward to head up the next big project. Indeed I’m not talking about making anything conditional on them saying yes.

I’m just saying you should draw their attention to any benefits they’ll derive personally from saying yes to you.

If your dad minds the kids for you, he’ll get more time with them, followed by a peaceful evening once they’ve gone to bed. If the next PR manager comes from your boss’s department, that will reflect well on the boss. If your partner helps you lose weight, you’re much more likely to agree to the kind of vacation that entails lazing around in a swimsuit. If your in-laws help you buy a house, you’ll be able to move nearer to them.

Sometimes you can add in a benefit (we can move nearer to you), and sometimes it’s just a matter of drawing their attention to a benefit that will come automatically if you get what you want. Either way, make sure they’re fully aware of all the ways this could help them get something they want, too.

Make ThemThink It Was Their Idea

If you’re anything like me, it goes against the grain to give anyone else the credit for your good ideas. But look, who gets credit isn’t the point here. The real prize is the whatever-you-want that you’re reading this book to help you get. Who cares about little bits of credit along the way? And in fact, following on from the previous page, if the other person thinks there’s credit to be had for a good idea, let them have it. It all helps you on your way.

All you have to do is follow the logical steps toward the idea without actually reaching the conclusion. Then you just wait for them to finish your sentence for you. “Of course it would be lovely to live nearer to you, but houses around your way are that bit pricier. I don’t think we’d be able to get a fourth bedroom and we really do need it. We’re just a few thousand short for a deposit. We’ll have to wait a few years for our next move before we can just pop down the road to see each other.” To which, hopefully, your mother replies, “Unless…maybe we could lend you just a few thousand…it would be lovely to have you close by…,” and you respond, “What a clever idea!” Now that it’s her idea and not yours, it’s much harder for her to change her mind.

Sometimes, if they’re almost there but not getting it, you can wait until the conversation moves on-maybe wait a week or two-and then say, “Do you know, I thought your idea about moving to house/joining forces was a clever/sensible/workable one.” If you’re praising the idea they’re unlikely to deny it, and maybe they misremembered-maybe it was their idea….

Discourage Their Bad Ideas

Of course, you’re not the only one with ideas. Other people will come up with schemes and suggestions too. Some of them will be good, some may even be directly helpful to you, and some…well, some will just be downright bad ideas. And, what’s more, they may threaten to get in the way of what you want. Like your partner’s suggestion of moving your in-laws in with you. It might work for some people, but in your case it’s clearly going to be a disaster. Or your colleague proposing that you all take turns to project manages the year’s trade shows instead of having one overall project manager. Or your best friend insisting that you really must join her on her latest fad diet.

I know one couple who has been together many years. He is somewhat prone to coming up with suggestions that she really can’t stand. However, if she says so it can start an argument, and he may become more entrenched. This is the danger when you disagree with someone-you draw attention to his idea and encourage him to promote it more actively, which is the opposite of what you want. So in the case of this particular couple (and probably many others) she’s developed a successful technique over the years. When he comes up with an idea she doesn’t like, she just says, “Mmmm.” Faced with this resounding lack of enthusiasm, but without a direct challenge, he generally forgets about it sooner or later.

So don’t try to shout down the ideas that get in your way. Just ignore them, and there’s a good chance they’ll simply go away.

 

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(24) Pearls of Life

Mind Tricks To Get What You Want

6 Effective Ways To Get What You Want Now

PL24

Find Out What It Will Take

 Here’s a genius of a technique for getting any kind of work-related upgrade-promotion, pay raise, extra perks-and it can work for other things too such as getting a loan from your bank manager. It takes a bit of patience, but you’ll get what you want in the end. And we all know that if it’s worth having, it’s worth waiting for.

If your boss has turned down your request-or if you don’t want to ask or don’t feel there’d be any point right now-you ask this killer question: “What would I have to do to be worth a pay raise (or whatever) in six months’ time?” If you think about it, they can’t very well say “nothing.” They’d be telling you that you can’t add any more value to the organization. So they don’t want you to work harder or improve your results?

Of course they do.

That means they have to give you an answer. And whatever that answers is, that’s your target. If you can achieve that in six months” time, they’ll have to give you a pay raise. Especially if you’ve followed up this conversation with an email confirming what’s been said.

Obviously it doesn’t have to be six months-you can ask whatever you think will be appropriate in terms of timing. But it is important that your boss is specific. It’s no good just saying you’d need to “increase sales” or “get more qualifications.” Increase sales to what level? Which qualifications? It needs to be specific, so they can’t argue with you when you do it.

If your boss tries to waffle and say they don’t know exactly, money’s tight and they’re not sure what senior management would feel, ask them to find out for you. And email them little reminders if necessary until they do. Remember you’re not asking for a handout. You’re asking at what point your value to the company would be so great that it would be profitable to pay you more to motivate you.

 Get a Team Behind You

If you want someone to do something big for you, which will take time or money or commitment or hassle or effort, she will probably want to take advice or consult other people. Management will want everyone’s views on whether to open that new branch (the one that you want to run). Your parents will seek your brother and sister’s opinion on whether to move to a smaller house nearer to yours. That man you’ve taken an interest in might want to see what his friends think before he asks you on a date.

So it’s only logical to get as many people as you can on your side before you ask the key person. That way, the advice she’ll get when she starts consulting will be in your favor. If everyone in the meeting is arguing in favor of the new branch, the management is far more likely to agree. Mom and dad will be much more inclined to make the move if all their children support it.

So prime all these people, and convince them of your case. If this is a big deal, treat each one as a challenge in itself, and use all the strategies we’ve covered to get them to support you. It will take time, maybe-effort, certainly-but it will be worth it when just about everyone comes out in your favor.

And If You Really Do Have to Ask…

OK I lied. At least, I didn’t exactly lie. I said I’d tell you how to get what you want without having to ask, and I have. I just omitted to mention that occasionally there is nothing to do but to ask directly. So to make up for misleading you slightly, I’m now including a few guidelines so that when you do have to ask, it can be as painless and as effective as possible.

Ideally you can practice these techniques as much as possible until you find that, actually, asking’s not so bad. After all, it can be the simplest and most straightforward way to get what you want. That doesn’t mean that all the rest of this book is wasted, because you’ll still need to use most of the skills and tactics and techniques and strategies and ploys we’ve covered. But just plain asking can certainly add another string to your bow.

So here we have it. How to get what you want without having to ask twice.

Be Clear What You’re Asking

Sure, some requests are pretty straightforward. Can I have Friday off to travel to a family wedding? Can I extend my overdraft? Will you go out with me? But often there’s a more complicated agenda. Suppose you want your partner to help you lose weight, and you’re asking her to support you. How? You want her to tell you off every time you look at the cookie jar? Agree to stop cooking certain foods? Go on the diet with you? You need to know what you’re asking, or how can she know whether to say yes?

Here’s another example. You want your boss to give you more responsibility. So you ask him. And he says, what extra responsibilities do you want? When do you want to start? Will you need extra support? Are you prepared to put in longer hours? And if the answer is no, is that it, or are you going to ask him to reconsider if you enroll in an evening course to brush up your skills, or get more experience over the next few months, or wait until someone in the department moves on? Don’t go into the conversation until you’ve thought through all the possibilities, and are clear in your mind about exactly what it is you’re asking. Because if you don’t know, he’s certainly not going to. And if he’s not sure exactly what he’s agreeing to, well…it’s easier just to say no.

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(25) Pearls of Life

 

 

Ancient Wisdom, Modern Thought (Video)

Pearls of Wisdom

PL25

Pick Your Moment

Last night I was busy trying to cook for the family. The gas had run out so the grill wasn’t working, and I had to use the dinky, little emergency slow cooker that never cooperates fully. I’d had to work late so I was quite tight for time. In any spare moment I could grab I was putting together my youngest son’s lunchbox for the morning and changing the laundry load. I was also trying to get a pill down a recalcitrant cat, which was the moment my eldest son decided to ask me if he could bake some cookies.

Guess what I told him? (But please leave out the language I used under my breath.)

If you want someone to say yes to you, the time to ask them is when they’re feeling chilled, happy, relaxed, full of the joys of the world, at one with the universe. If you can’t catch them in that mood, at least wait until they’re cheerful and not in a hurry.

Finding the right moment can seem like a minor detail, but getting it wrong is actually one of the biggest reasons people say no.

Make a Date

Sometimes you know that you’ll get what you want if you catch someone in the right mood. And this may be only a small (though important) step toward your final goal. Catching the right moment works for certain people, but others are always busy, and you tend to feel you haven’t got their full attention. Or this is a vital stage in your plan, even the crucial point, and it’s really important you discuss what you want in detail. Maybe you need to convince your partner that now is the time to start a family, or to persuade your boss to interview you for the new position.

In that case it’s really essential you have their full attention for several minutes at least. It’s just not going to work if they have to dash off before you’re done asking. So the answer is obvious: Make an appointment. Don’t just aim to catch your boss on a quiet day-ask for an appointment. If she wants to know why, say you want to talk about your work, or your performance.

In the case of your partner, if home life gets busy you can arrange to go out for a walk or a meal to get them alone for a decent length of time. You can invite a neighbor or friend over for coffee or out for a drink. Whether it’s a formal meeting or an informal get-together, what you need to organize is time away from other distractions so you can concentrate on what you’re going to ask.

Know When to Put It Off

This is something you really want, something important to you. Even so, it just occasionally happens that you realize before you get to your meeting that you’re not actually properly prepared for it. Maybe you were going to prepare and then some crisis got in the way. Or perhaps you discovered some vital fact at the last minute.

Whatever the reason, you’re now supposed to be meeting your boss, your child’s head teacher, your mother, your bank manager, your neighbor- whoever-in a few hours, and you realize you’re not ready. They may ask questions or raise arguments that you have no good answer to. What do you do? You postpone; that’s what. Rearrange the meeting or ask them if you can have that chat next week instead. I know, I know, you don’t want to mess people around, and you don’t want to wait. But what else can you do? You only get one chance at a first approach-and it’s always so much harder to have to go back and re-propose whatever it is, because you weren’t prepared the first time. Another few days will be worth the wait, knowing that you can get all your homework done properly before the next time, and that you’ll then wow her with a convincing and appealing approach that she can’t say no to. And that’s worth waiting for.

Keep to the Script

Right, you’ve already made sure that you know exactly what you’re asking for. However, you also need to know why the other person should give it to you. So the thing to do now is to memorize three key reasons why they should say yes.

That’s not the same thing as three reasons why you want the thing. Your potential babysitter may not in the least care whether you learn Italian. Or what job you’re hoping to get as a result. They’re far more likely to be persuaded by reasons such as-you’ll owe them a big favor, you’ll mow her lawn every Saturday and your mother is prepared to do it occasionally so she won’t be letting you down if she has to skip a week once in a while.

Your partner may love you just as you are, but he may see the sense in supporting your diet if you point out that it will make you feel more confident, you’ll be far easier to be around if you don’t have to watch him hide doughnuts, and you’ll be able to go for those long walks he enjoys if you’re leaner and fitter.

Your boss needs to hear why you should get a pay raise: You exceeded your targets yet again, you’re now fully versed in important software that you couldn’t previously use, and you have taken on additional responsibilities.

Now you have to make sure that when you ask you remember to state clearly these three reasons for saying yes, so the other person is in no doubt about the benefits of saying yes to you.

 

 

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