How to Ask for What You Want

Overcoming the myth of independence and asking for what you want.

Stever Robbins
4-minute read
Episode #107

Today’s topic is getting what you want from other people. The quick and dirty tip is to ask.

How to Ask for What You Want

Most of us are crippled by school. It taught us a dastardly, destructive lesson. We learned if we asked for help, it meant we’re cheaters. Or worse, that we’re weak. Real men and women don’t ask for help. Only paper mache people ask for help: people who are made of newspaper and library paste, with their faces drawn on in magic marker.

We love the myth that people do it on their own. Rich, successful people who started in a trailer, got scholarships to famous schools, and now have 30,000 employees, personal assistants, and a private jet…they never ask for help. They just apply for scholarships, hire employees, and delegate to personal assistants. We oooh and aaahh over how self-made they are, never realizing they do it by getting help every step of the way.

We all have times we want to ask for help. Like asking our boss to show us how he used to do in one hour the sales reports that take us all day. Or asking our best friend for advice on handling our teenager’s upcoming slumber party, since a crowd control hose leaves the carpet too soggy. But we don’t ask for help, because we’re scared.

Punt Your Excuses!

We find amazing excuses to keep us from asking for what we want. Don’t fall victim to these silly excuses. Let’s knock them out one by one, so you can ask for help when you want it.

  • Excuse #1: They’ll think I’m stupid. Not necessarily. In fact, they might be impressed you had the courage to ask. And as long as your request is G-rated, they won’t even be shocked. They’ll probably just say “yes” or “no.” If by some chance, they look at you, sneer, and say, “You’re stupid!!!,” just look back at them and say, “Perhaps that’s true. Does that mean you don’t know the answer, either?” They’ll then give you the answer, just to prove they’re not stupid. Learning to embrace saying “I don’t know” is one of the most useful skills you’ll ever develop.

    My friend says if you’re asking the IT Help Desk, then they’ll already think you’re stupid, so it doesn’t matter anyway. I disagree; I worked at an IT help desk and didn’t think people were stupid. Not even the guy who thought his computer was an enchanted fairy who wanted to be his significant other. He wasn’t stupid. He was confused, perhaps. Desperate. Single. Read one too many Elric novels. But not stupid.


About the Author

Stever Robbins

Stever Robbins was the host of the podcast Get-it-Done Guy from 2007 to 2019. He is a graduate of W. Edward Deming’s Total Quality Management training program and a Certified Master Trainer Elite of NLP. He holds an MBA from the Harvard Business School and a BS in Computer Sciences from MIT.