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How to ask a favor

posted by Tim Carmody   Jul 20, 2018

Some very useful advice from Valet magazine (which I confess I don’t read — thanks Yuri Victor!) on how to ask for a favor. It’s step by step and super simple:

  1. Be direct with your request;
  2. Give your reason why;
  3. Provide an opportunity for escape.

This last step, in particular, is nicely articulated:

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.

You can embroider this with lots of detail specific to the kind of behavior you’re asking for, but the core here is pretty spot-on. There’s also a nice bit of advice for folks granting a favor, that basically boils down to “do it or don’t do it, but don’t be a jerk about it.”