The following excerpt is taken from the book SUPERCOACH: 10 Secrets to Transform Anyone’s Life by Michael Neill. It is published by Hay House (March 2010) and is available at all bookstores or online at: www.hayhouse.com.
What is it that allows one person to ask and ask and ask for what he wants, while others stop themselves before even popping the very first question?
This is the simple secret at the heart of this session:
You can ask anyone for anything when you make it okay for them to say “no.”
Your ability to not take the word no personally, no matter how dramatically that “no” may be delivered, is the key to success—not (by definition) because people will always say yes, but because it won’t be emotionally devastating to you if they don’t. The more comfortable you get with the word no, the less likely you are to get caught up in a sort of “post-traumatic stress disorder” of the mind, walking on eggshells and becoming more and more afraid to ask for what you want.
One of the things that can make it considerably easier to face up to the possibility of a strong “no” is knowing that this response invariably comes from one of three places:
1. Other people’s fear that you will “make” them hear something they don’t want to hear or do something they don’t want to do.
2. A lack of information or understanding about how what you’re asking will be of benefit to them, either directly or indirectly.
3. A genuine awareness on their part that they don’t want to be, do, or have what you’re requesting.
Michael Neill, Author
If their response is coming from fear, you don’t have to take it personally because it’s about their internal state, not you or your external request.
If it’s coming from a lack of information, it’s still impersonal—it’s up to you whether or not to continue until they have enough information to make an informed decision.
If they’re saying no because they really don’t want to, that’s still nothing to do with you—it’s simply a statement from them to them about their willingness to trust their own intuition, awareness, and inner knowing.
So why do we take “no” so personally?
Because when we make our requests, we tend to put our self-image and self-esteem and even physical survival on the line along with whatever it is we’re requesting. Instead of simply asking for the sale, the job, or the hand in marriage, our self-directed subtext gets rolled into the question and what we’re actually asking goes a little something like this:
“Would you please do as I’m requesting and approve of me, affirm me as a human being, ensure I have whatever I need to survive, and let me know I’m worthy of your acceptance?”
That’s a tall order for anyone, let alone someone you’ve never met before!
In fact, one of the simplest ways to overcome the fear of asking for what you want is to notice whether your attention is on you or the person you’re asking. If it’s on you—your self-image, self-worth, or what it might mean to you for them to say yes or no to your request—you’ll inevitably feel fear or discomfort. But the moment you turn the full light of your attention onto the other person and how what you’re asking will benefit and serve that individual, the discomfort disappears and you’ll find it surprisingly easy to ask for what you want.
In order to see how the desire for approval serves as an obstacle to asking for what you want, consider going up to 100 people and either asking for something you want or selling them a product or your own services. Now, 50 of these people already know you very well—they’re members of your family or friends and colleagues. The other 50 are complete strangers and don’t know anything about you.
Which group would you find it easier to approach?
In my experience, people are fairly split in their answers to this question, but fewer than 5 in 100 would find approaching both groups to ask for what they want or sell their product or services an effortless, fun endeavor.
The reason is that we don’t want to risk the disapproval of others, not even of complete strangers. But imagine how much easier it would be to ask for what you wanted if your sense of well-being were strong enough for you not to worry about what other people thought of you in order to feel safe, happy, and well.
Melissa Dittmann Tracey is a contributing editor for REALTOR® Magazine, writing about home & design trends, technology, and sales and marketing. She manages the magazine's award-winning Styled, Staged & Sold blog.