People often ask me ‘what do I have to do?’ to get something. They have gone to great lengths to not ask directly for what they want, because they are frightened of the answer they might get, or the consequences that might arise as a result of asking the question.
What’s missing is a straight conversation.
A straight conversation is one in which you do not know for sure what the outcome will be, but you still have the conversation anyway.
People don’t ask for what they want because they are frightened. From inside their identity (the part of themselves designed to protect them), the thought of asking for something is such a stretch to their comfort zone, that they will try to control the outcome at all costs.
Control looks like making a prediction on the outcome before it is known, and it is usually that they will not get the answer they want, so why even bother asking the question. Control might also be disguised as rationalisation, common sense, evidence from the past, or a lack of belief that you are entitled to it. Wanting control can also appear as an unwillingness to be vulnerable. The fear is that if you are vulnerable, people will take advantage of you.
My experience of this is completely the opposite. The more you let go of control and the more vulnerable you are with people, the more they are willing to help and be vulnerable back.
I remember many moons ago this situation with one of the first girls I wanted to ask out (though I had no idea where ‘out’ was!). As I wasn’t one of the rugby jocks, I thought she wouldn’t want to know me because I was too skinny and not popular enough. My claim to fame at the time was being the leader of the school orchestra – a violinist – an occupation not really regarded as cool and sexy. I knew she was going to say no if I asked her to go out with me, but I really wanted to know the answer, so after a gulp of Scotch, I phoned her up.
She said yes!
The feeling of elation was unbelievable. The relationship was short and not too sweet, but that’s another story.
Over the next few days, I invite you not to predict the outcomes to some conversations you have, and see the amazing results you get. Ask some tough questions you have not already predicted the answers to, and give some answers free from worrying about whether the listener is going to be upset, or if you are going to get the answer you want. You will communicate at a different level from normal, which is hugely rewarding in terms of building intimacy, and therefore trust, with whomever you are talking to.
And you might surprise yourself with some of the great results you get too. Give it a try!