How to Ask a Favor

How to ask a favor
How to ask a favor

How to
Ask a
Favor

The right way to ask someone for help and get the assistance you need.

Have you ever needed something from one of your friends or coworkers but didn't know how to ask for it? You're not alone. Many of us spend way too much time thinking and worrying before finally getting the nerve to ask someone for a favor. Which, of course, is natural—it's not easy to ask for help. Especially if you don't feel like you've got something to give back. To ask a favor is, in many ways, asking to be rejected. If someone can't (or doesn't want to) help you, there isn't a whole lot you can do about it. But there are ways to improve your chances. You see, there's an art (and a slight science) to asking someone to help you with something.

And you should be asking for favors. Not all the time, mind you. But too often these days, we'll go out of our way or make things entirely too difficult or uncomfortable for ourselves before simply asking for help. After all, asking for small favors is how good friendships start. It's how neighbors get to know one another and how coworkers strengthen their team bond. Because people like being useful, passing on their skill and being able to show off a little. Here's what you want to keep in mind the next time you're in need of a little help from a friend, family member or colleague.

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Be Direct With Your Request

Don't beat around the bush. Most people are perceptive enough to tell when you're not saying what you want to say. This only makes them suspicious and impatient. Just be direct and say "I've got a favor to ask you." It's a short but powerful statement that not only acknowledges a level of intimacy between the two of you, it gives them a moment to switch gears. When they hear this, they feel needed (which makes them feel important) and it puts them in a position to be more benevolent. Instead of feeling caught off guard or put upon by your surprise request.

Instead of ...

“Hey Ryan, do you have time to go to the afternoon meeting for me?”


Say ...

“Ryan, I've got a favor to ask ... would you be able to cover for me and attend the afternoon meeting in my place?”







Give Your Reason Why

In his groundbreaking book, Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, Dr. Robert Cialdini, Ph.D demonstrated that humans are more likely to say yes to a request if a reason is given—even if that reason doesn't make much sense. The word "because" actually triggers the automatic compliance response in humans. Plus, people generally like to know why they're being asked to do something.

Building upon
the favor above ...

“Ryan, I've got a favor to ask ... would you be able to cover for me and attend the afternoon meeting in my place? I'm still working on this report and won't be done in time









Provide an Opportunity for Escape

This is really just good manners and keeps your relationship in good standing. It shows the other person you respect their time and that this isn't a guilt trip. When you ask a favor, always offer the other person the opportunity to easily and graciously decline. End your request with something like, "I understand if you can't do this now," or "Please don't feel obligated, if you aren't comfortable with this." Say this and mean it. Because a favor you aren't able to refuse isn't a favor at all. It's an order or a command.

Building upon
the favor above ...

“Ryan, I've got a favor to ask ... would you be able to cover for me and attend the afternoon meeting in my place? I'm still working on this report and won't be done in time. I understand if you can't make it—it's been a crazy week for everyone.

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When You Grant a Favor

Don't say "You owe me." It's tacky and sucks all the altruism out of your kindness when you make the person feel bad or forever in your debt. Only accept an offer to help if you truly want to. People shouldn't guilt you into helping, and in return, you shouldn't guilt them into helping you later.

Don’t say “You owe me.” It’s tacky and sucks all the altruism out of your kindness when you make the person feel bad or forever in your debt. Only accept an offer to help if you truly want to. People shouldn’t guilt you into helping, and in return, you shouldn’t guilt them into helping you later.

Homer Simpson: Well, now I need you to do a favor for me.

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