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19 Dec 2011

“Ask Don’t Tell” Inspirational Technique

People feel better about themselves when they feel they have power to effect change in their worlds. One of the best ways is to ask them to help you. It also integrates well with other morale building techniques.

It’s difficult for people to feel valueless when they are helping others; helping senior members of the organization compounds these positive feelings. Telling people what to do only reinforces helpless subordinating feelings because they are just order takers. In the end, it’s the difference between creating a compliant workforce and an inspired one.

The Ask has two parts:

  1. The ask itself
  2. The tying of the ask to you

For instance, compare the following:

  • “Would you do this?”
  • “Would you do this for me? You would really help me make this project successful.”

Feelings of value grow if they know how they are helping you. Avoid “we,” “they,” or “us.” Avoid generic group terms such as “company,” “employees” or “customers.” Use the power of names by referencing specific people, especially if they were helped too. Evoke the CEO’s (or Owner’s) name rather than the company’s name.

Sometimes employees will appear puzzled by your ask especially if it’s something that is obviously mandatory. Here’s a response:

  • Employee: Why are you asking? I don’t have a choice.
  • Manager: That’s not true. Yes, you might not have a choice whether to do this but you can choose whether to do it in an acceptable manner or an exceptional one. That is why I’m asking for your help. Will you help me?

This exchange demonstrates why the ask is sincere and valuable. We are asking for something exceptional. People not only feel better about themselves when they help us, but they feel even better when they learn that their help is exceptional.

 

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