The power of Asking.

©2013 Nim Gholkar All Rights Reserved In his amazingly insightful book ” Life Lessons from the Monk who sold his Ferrari”, Robin Sharma wrote: “The person who asks for what he wants at least has a chance of getting what he wants. The person who does not ask has no chance” ‘Asking’ is not the same as ‘demanding’. It is a much gentler yet more powerful skill. I admire people who can walk into a restaurant and request a better table than the one they have been directed to or people who can ask for a discount if they have spent a substantial amount at a departmental store. Sometimes I have found myself in a quandary when the lunch I ordered and paid for at a take-away place has arrived partially cold. Should I return it and ask for it to be re-prepared or re-heated? Or should I simply ignore it, eat as much as possible and not give feedback? I spent years ignoring feedback forms, whether it is after a hotel stay that was less than ideal or eating at a newly set up restaurant that served sub-standard food or any other venture that requested feedback from its patrons.

I recently had lunch with a friend at a noodles place. She dislikes spicy food, and after much deliberation, ordered satay chicken noodles. Expecting it to be fairly mild and even a bit sweet, she was taken aback after the first mouthful to find it unbearably hot. She wondered if an entire bowl of crushed chillies had been tossed in. “I can’t eat this. My mouth is burning” she said.

“Do you want to order something else?” I asked. But no, she couldn’t be bothered. ‘Too much hassle. I’m not that hungry anyway”.

Suddenly I remembered a quote that I had read in one of the countless motivational books I am so fond of browsing through. It was by Somerset Maugham: “It’s a funny thing about life; if you refuse to accept anything but the best, you very often get it”

“I think you should return it” I said quietly. “You have paid for it after all”

After many exclamations of “No, it’s too embarrassing” and “I can’t do it. What will they think of me?”, my friend finally stood up, walked in and said to the bewildered person at the serving counter: ” I am sorry, but I cannot eat this. It is too spicy. Can you offer me anything else?”

She held her breath and waited. It was one of the most difficult things she had ever done in her life. She later told me that even her experiences in bungy jumping and sky diving had not filled her with as much dread as this simple act of asking for what she wanted.

Imagine her surprise and delight when the chef, who had been summoned out by the cashier, said ” We apologize for the inconvenience. Please order any other dish you like, and we will bring it out to you”. My friend was amazed that it had been as easy as that.

As they say, if you don’t ask, you don’t get. The art of asking doesn’t come easy but I am beginning to believe that like any other skill, it probably gets easier with time.

I would love to hear about a time when you gave honest feedback or asked for something you really wanted 🙂

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