Living and loving it: You only get what you ask for

What you need to know:

  • For two days, there were phone calls, WhatsApp messages and emails going between me and them both, arguing, discussing and explaining to each other our points of view

A few days ago, I had a working breakfast with a couple of friends in a quaint and fairly new restaurant. None of us wanted a big meal which seemed to be the only option on the menu, so we asked for what other snacks they had. Muffins, croissants, slices of cake and such like was on offer, the waiter said. I asked if they had the snack menu so I could see the full list. They did not have one. 

We decided to go for croissants but were told they were out. I was thinking of going for a muffin when one of my companions ordered for a chapatti and the other toasted bread! “Ang on!” I thought, why didn’t I think of asking for anything I fancied even if it was not on the menu? I also asked for toasted bread. The coffees and tea came along with our snacks and we enjoyed them. It occurred to me at that point that I should never limit myself to what is presented to me. I have the option to ask or suggest. 

Some months back, I watched a Ted Talk on YouTube titled, what I learnt from 100 Days of Rejection. In it, the speaker Jia Jiang talks about the power of getting rejected. Now, that might sound strange and horrifying – what power could possibly come from such a negative situation? But Jiang explained from his experience going around each day for 100 days to deliberately ask for something he might not get, he learnt that once one gets used to being told no, the pain stings less because they understand it is a part of life and not necessarily a rejection of them. Very importantly, Jiang learnt that getting a “No” and not being stung by it allows you to find ways to keep asking creatively until you get what you want, or even more than you had hoped for in the first place. 

I have experienced this a number of times but two similar instances stand out for me. Two different clients asked for my services to help edit their books. After looking through their work, I quoted prices. They out rightly said they could not possibly pay that amount and I had to understand and reduce the amount I was asking for, in one case by 50%. At that point, I felt they were rejecting my terms of service. I could either insist or lose them, or I could bow to the pressure and reduce by a certain amount. I decided I was going to stick to the amounts I had asked for and if I lost these potential clients, that would be painful but I would bear it, because it would not be worth my time and skill doing the amount of work needed on their content for the amounts they wanted to pay. 

For two days, there were phone calls, WhatsApp messages and emails going between me and them both, arguing, discussing and explaining to each other our points of view. The first eventually agreed to my offer of giving a 10% discount. The second put up a good fight. She pushed for a 25% discount. I eventually told her, I would take that amount but give a B-class service. This would mean I would edit the work satisfactorily but I would not give it all the perks such as researching on all the content to ensure it was correct, providing detailed editing, and giving extras after the job was done. That was A-class service that could only be given for the full amount I had quoted. She was disappointed but an hour later returned to say they would take the A-class service and pay the full amount.

Friends, it won’t always be sunshine and roses once you pick up the courage to ask. But many times, unless you ask for something, you will not get it. And once you learn to understand why the answer is a no, you will start to learn how to ask better, how to ask for options and how to return to ask again when the conditions are better.

Today, go and ask for something you have always been afraid to request for. And let me know how it goes.
[email protected]