Thursday, December 19, 2013

Ask. Then Ask Again.

I told the boys this morning about a research study I recently read about. The study found most people underestimate others willingness to help them. As a result, most people don't ask for help as much as they should. The study create a number of scenarios in which participants had to ask for help, e.g., asking a stranger to borrow their cell phone. Participants had to guess what percentage of the strangers would help them. They significantly underestimated the number. The reason is very interesting: when we ask for something, we consider the size of the ask in our guess about whether we will get the help we are asking for or not. However, when someone asks something from us, what first comes to our mind, in deciding whether to help or not, is the impact of not helping. How bad will it look if I don't help? How will it impact the person who is asking? With this factor driving the decision we are more likely to help...

Furthermore, the study also found that people incorrectly assume that those who reject our requests are likely to reject future requests. Turns out those who reject a request from us are more likely to accept a future request. Think about it. If the main driver of the decision is how the rejection will be perceived, then rejecting us twice in a row would have a very negative perception, thus people try to avoid it. On the flip side, those who have already done favors for us are more likely to turn us down in the future, as that wouldn't look so bad.

Ask for help. And ask from anyone who can help you.

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