The action of asking is quite powerful. Once you know what you want, ask for it and you will most likely get it. If you don’t get what you want then you will learn something new. At the very least you will learn that person you asked is not the right fit for what you need.
I was quite reserved about asking anyone for help as a child and young woman. It took me years to learn that I could ask for help and it did not mean I was weak or incompetent. Asking the right questions has improved my life. I learned to ask for help, guidance and instructions instead of hoping I was doing things the right way. It keeps me from failing with important things and becoming overwhelmed. Once I overcame my fear of asking I learned to listen. Really it works better the other way around, but this is my story. Listening is a key action to take so that you will know the right questions to ask. The more I grow and the more often I listen and wait to speak the more I learn. I am amazed that it took me this long to figure this out because it is really quite simple. It seems I learned to not listen to myself, but to listen to others telling me that if I do this and that everything will be fine and I do not need to question anything else. I suppose being the youngest of 5 kids this was a natural trait to learn. Silly me!
Sometimes I forget to listen and I start asking questions that do one of three things. Not listening before I ask leads me in circles, frustrates the person I ask or causes people to lose interest in me.
If you would like to learn how to listen you can try what I did. Focus on the other person. If my mind starts wandering I repeat in my head everything they say until I am once again engaged in what they are saying. When I am in a meeting or about to meet a new person I tell myself that it is important to listen and to pay attention.
I do not doodle. I do not scratch my head, play with my pencil or daydream. When I fidget I begin to focus on that action instead of whoever is speaking. So move distractions away from you. If you need to take notes, write down key points and set your pencil down until your next note. Do not hold onto your pencil.
Eye contact is also very important. When I keep eye contact with the person who is speaking than it is easier for me to listen because I am keeping my attention on them. If you are not used to using much eye contact, then just make eye contact occasionally until it is simply as natural as breathing. Mentally remind yourself or write down to look people in the eye.
Once you have got listening down you will find it easier to ask the right questions. Think before you speak and don’t rush yourself. Articulate your words so that you do not talk to fast and end up mumbling. It is good to state your questions in a clear voice. Don’t be too loud. Use your inside voice, unless you are in a noisy location. I have a terrible habit of mumbling or talking too low. These days I notice when I do this and instantly remind myself to slow down and speak clearly.
Have a game plan. Think about what you want to ask before you meet that person.
What exactly do you need to ask for? Don’t beat around the bush, come right out and state what you need. This will give you a better response. Other questions to ask yourself are as follows. What skills do you have that will help you? What are you capable of giving to get what you want? What can you offer the other person in return?
A few weeks ago I asked a blogger I admire if I could write a guest post. She was responsive and I was invited to write a guest post on self defense on her blog, Marinagraphy. You can see my post here: http://marinagraphy.com/importance-fighting-back/ I was thrilled to have this chance to share my work with more people on a blog I respect and enjoy reading.
I asked over the internet, but still I took the initiative to ASK! I did not listen to her but I carefully read what she wrote in response and made sure the article I sent her was in line with what she needed for her blog. Taking your time to read carefully is important. Have you ever replied to an email, post or new contact to quickly and than realized you had messed up? Sometimes you can delete a post, but sometimes you can’t. Take your time. Listen. Ask.
I hope you find this post useful.