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Five Questions to Answer Before Asking for Something

IStock_000005289430_webYou want something.  It will help your team, your project, your day-to-day life.  But you'll never get it unless you convince someone else to see things your way.  Not easy to do, but worth the effort.  You pick up the phone, but then you think that in person may work better.  That way you can read their body language.  You walk into their office and make your request.  They ask a couple of questions with a tone that you were not expecting and all of a sudden the conversation is moving in a direction for which you are not prepared.  The result is not what you hoped, but you have no idea what you could have done differently.

An actor walking into an audition experiences something similar.  They never know quite what to expect and sometimes have very little time before they are asked to read a script or play a scene.  Yet there is a lot at stake.  Here are five questions they may ask themselves that you can use before launching into your own "scene" in order to see the big picture and where you are in the "script":

  1. What do you want? What exactly do you want?  What is your objective?  Be very specific without generalities.
  2. Where is the conflict?  Everyday situations and conversations are filled with conflict and you need to understand where the conflict is before you enter the "scene."  What do you want?  What do they want?  Where will there be conflict?  If you don't know, make it a point to ask questions to find out.
  3. What has just happened?  What were they doing, thinking, even feeling before you walked in?
  4. Where are you?  Is it in their office?  Your office?  Are there other people around?  Will they feel threatened or comfortable?
  5. What is the relationship?  Is there a history?  How do they feel about you?  Do they like you?  Respect you?  Do they know you?  Have you made an effort to sincerely build a relationship with them?

Simple questions such as these "set the stage," help you go in with the right attitude, and move the focus from yourself to the other person.  And that goes a long way towards achieving your objective while perserving the relationship.





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