How to Ask for a Big Favor and Improve Your Chances in Getting It

Two major barriers in asking for big favors are the expression of vulnerability and the prospect of being rejected after doing so. 

A request for a favor depends on the clear expression of a specific need. Asking your colleague for a ride home from work is predicated on telling them that you didn’t drive to work that day. That precursory dependency to any request for a favor is often a vulnerability. 

In other words, people who aren’t vulnerable in any way generally don’t require favors being done to aid them. 

Your request for a favor being rejected after expressing a vulnerable need for it is a particularly painful punch in the gut because you’d be left bare. Not only would another individual have some intimate knowledge about your current vulnerability, but they’d leave it unaided. 

The colleague who rejects your request for a ride home from work will know that you’d be relegated to taking public transit while they commute in the comfort of their own vehicle. The act of taking public transit home from work is a normal thing to do and is not what makes such a rejection painful. Seeking help by insinuating that getting a ride is a more preferable option only to be rejected is the aspect which brings with it social pain.   

This article aims to prevent you from feeling the powerless discomfort of having your requests for favors being rejected. 


Help Them Help You: You’re in Charge of Educating and Planning

The act of going up to someone and asking for a favor is difficult for similar reasons that making an apology is. It’s a social act which leaves us on shaky ground and at the whim of another’s decision to accept or reject the vulnerability we express. 

Thrusting your vulnerability upon an unsuspecting individual introduces a feeling of pressure. Generally, the pressure felt by those we ask favors from is birthed from unfamiliarity with the task being asked of them. Being uneducated about someone else’s urgent issues encourages us to avoid having to deal with them in the first place. It is thereby important that you focus on educating those you’re asking favors from about your situation.  

A general thing to keep in mind when presenting your plee for a favor is to quickly familiarize your listener with, and educate them on, the burden you’re about to place on them. 

Your attempts to get them up to speed quickly should focus on relieving the pressure that their unfamiliarity with your circumstance places on their shoulders from the get go. You should avoid simply asking someone for a favor and expecting them to plan out the approach at solving whatever issue you’ve come to them with. 

Stagger your presentation of the issue you’re asking for someone’s help with by mentioning the detailed steps needed to be taken in an attempt to solve it. 

For instance, asking your neighbor to feed your cat before you go on vacation is made more effective by quickly specifying how many times a day they’d need to do that. Rather than allowing your listener’s mind to attempt calculations on how big of a burden accepting your request would be, simply tell them the truth and do it quickly. Beat them to the punch in regards to visualizing their course of action in helping you. 

You should make a detailed attempt at connecting the issue you need help with and the course of action you seek another person to perform. Rather than presenting a general problem without any mention of what a detailed solution looks like, attempt to make it easier for the people doing you a favor by telling them exactly what you need from them. 

Doing so will limit the effect that presenting your previously unknown vulnerability has on the individual in question. As you walk through the details of what you need help with, and the steps you’ve taken yourself in an attempt to help yourself, the person you’re asking a favor from will know where to start on their desire to help you. They’ll be discouraged from over estimating how much time and effort they’d need to put into helping, and their confidence in their ability to provide the help you need will raise. 

Remember, do not place the burden of learning and planning on the shoulders of those who may or may not be willing to do you a favor. If you need a favor being done for you, make every attempt at educating the person you’re asking a favor from. Once you do, lay out a detailed course of action for them to follow on their way to doing you a favor. In essence, help them help you. 


Be Committed to Upkeeping the Comfort of the Person Doing You a Favor

The type of interaction that commences as soon as someone agrees to do you a favor has an element of hospitality to it if done right. As someone who’s set to receive a favor from another sometime down the line, your job demands making their deed of doing you a favor be as comfortable as possible. 

It’s essential that you make it a priority to constantly be on the lookout for how comfortable the people doing you favors are while they do them. Being hospitable in the face of receiving a favor is not about acting extravagantly grateful. You don’t have to invest a lot into being dedicated to maintaining someone’s state of comfort as they do something which helps you out. 

The best showings of a genuine desire for at least not exacerbating the level of discomfort someone feels as they do you a favor depends on visualizing their journey of helping you. Being tuned into the potential pebbles in the shoes of those doing the noble deed of helping you is more effective than gifting them when they’ve done what you needed from them. 

People tend to remember the discomfort they feel in the face of your pleas for help even if you present them with rewards after they’ve completed the uncomfortable task. It’s essential to prevent such moments, not cover them up. 

Preventing  moments of discomfort involves first knowing where they’ll show up as someone does you a favor, then being honest about their potential to cause discomfort, and finally offering solutions on how to limit those uncomfortable instances. Your honesty is essential during this phase of the process of receiving favors from others. 

For instance, if you know that the individual doing you a favor will hit traffic on their way to picking you up from work then it’s in your mutual best interests if you communicate that information and present solutions to that potential pebble in their shoe. 


Be Backed by a Group the Favor Giver Respects

In what may be a less controllable aspect of your request for a favor, being backed by people who the favor giver respects increases your chances of receiving a favor from someone who’s happy to do it. 

The notion of being backed by someone the favor giver respects doesn’t have to present itself in the traditional sense of having people of power by your side. 

Yes, it’s better if your manager at work requests that Steve should perhaps help you on the assignment you’re working on. At that point, Steve sees that doing you a favor may, in fact, benefit him too. 

However, being backed by a group that the favor giver respects can involve not letting down a group of mutual friends which both of you hold dear. Or it may mean being on time for your child’s big game. It may even include taking advantage of your friend’s respect for your parents as you ask them to give your parents a ride to the airport when you’re out of town.

People who the favor giver respects are powerful in limiting any personal gripes the favor giver may have with you specifically. If such third parties exist in the scenario at hand, it’s best to include their presence into the initial pieces of dialogue between yourself and the favor giver. 


Educate Them on Their Forgotten Personal Investment in the Favor Being Done for You

The people we ask for favors from are sometimes invested in those favors being completed without knowing it. For instance, if you’ve committed to attending a friend’s BBQ this evening, them doing you a favor in an effort to not be late for that BBQ would be personally beneficial to them. Since such a friend would prefer you to make it to their BBQ on time, asking them for a favor which would ensure your punctual attendance would be likelier to be completed.

Making connections in regards to the minor inconveniences the people you’re asking a favor from would personally feel if they don’t help you out is effective in raising the chances of them doing you that favor. However, it is of utmost importance that you operate with unexaggerated honesty. Do not overplay the negative effects should these people not want to perform a favor for you. Simply state how they can ensure of the state of their own personal comfort if they hold hidden personal investment in that favor being completed for you.

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Disclaimer of Opinion: This article is presented only as opinion. It does not make any scientific, factual, or legal claims. Please critically analyze all claims made and independently decide on its validity.