Tuesday, August 7, 2012

how to get what you want

I'm not really one for breaking rules. I'm the girl who follows the recipe word for word. I worry about all sorts of imagined calamities: Are the coals completely extinguished? Is the water deep enough to jump from this bridge? Am I standing far enough away from the bottle rockets? Bottle rockets whaaaat?! I'm outta here!

On metros and planes, I read every "Warning," "Attention!", and "Instructions" sign posted, often multiple times to ensure that--should we have to make a water landing--I know exactly what to do. When the teacher says "Put your pencils down," I do it. In fact, in middle school I took Ms. Ventura so seriously when she said, "I don't want any wandering eyes" that sometimes my eyes ached after a test from making sure they stayed on that paper the entire time. And above all, I never never never trespass.

Such is my approach to life.

Yeah so maybe I don't like to have "fun." Whatever. My fun is just a tamer, less arrest- and fatal injury-seeking kind of fun.

Anyways, lately, I've decided to live dangerously...in the form of asking people for stuff that there's no way they're going to give to me.

Thus far it has yielded $75.00, four months of unlimited yoga, and the use of one bathroom in downtown Salt Lake.

And better than that, I'm noticing some pretty common trends across the board of requests that are granted. Which means getting what you want is more than just dumb luck. It's more than just eyelash-batting ability. It's actually an art form.

And this is what I've learned:
  1. Context is key. Don't start your phone call or email with all of your demands. Instead, start by asking an unrelated question. Maybe you're calling to pause your service with X company while you're out of town, maybe you're writing to inquire about something. Make the primary purpose of your inquest something other than "I'm writing because I want XYZ from you." 
  2. Then, almost as an afterthought to your "primary purpose", attach your request, "Oh, by the way" style.
  3. Acknowledge the forces that oppose you getting what you want. This might be owning up to being in the wrong, recognizing that it would be out of their way to do XYZ for you, conceding that there are good reasons for the rules being what they are.
  4. Then explain your situation. Plead your case. It helps if you are honest about your emotions here. For instance, saying "I'm so embarrassed--I can't believe I made this mistake..." can do wonders for breaking down walls.
  5. Politely state your request. Keep it short.
  6. Close by saying something kind. "Thanks for all you guys are doing for the community!" or "Thank you for all the time you've put into helping me out with problem A." Even closing with "Kind regards" can do a lot to fight your battle for you.
Now, an imploration to do benevolently with this knowledge. I share these not so we can manipulate each other, not so we can "pull one over" on people we owe things to. Instead, I think that everyone deep down wants to help other people. I think deep down, when people see your real intentions--that you aren't trying to manipulate or pull one over on them--they want to help you out, because they've been in your shoes before.

So here's to having more transparent hearts!

Give it a shot, then give me a shout-out. I'm curious what awesome things people will give and forgive when we use a little kindness and tact.


  1. So for once in my life let me, let me, let me...

  2. First, I am all about living the non-rule breaking life. Second, I love your writing. Third, I would like to apologize for changing your number of followers from the beautiful, multiple of ten number 80, to a less beautiful number of 81. It couldn't be helped.

    1. Aw, Dani, thanks so much! I love getting to see who's actually reading these weird little things I write, especially when one of them is a non-rule breaking kind of girl too :)