How to Ask for What You Want & Get It.


in Creativity,Personal Growth

The other night my daughter cajoled me into going on a bike ride with her.  Mind you, I’m not actually riding a bike myself.  My role is to walk behind her as she masters the intricacies of balance on her new princess bike.  It was hot.  I didn’t want to go.  But she asked and asked and finally I relented.

We set off and soon were traveling down a street we hadn’t visited before.  We discovered a home with a beautiful garden in a shady spot and stopped to take a look.  I needed a break. The homeowner was out tending her garden.  I complimented her on her creativity because she had used such interesting materials in the garden, like hazelnut shells, shards of pottery and broken auto glass, that I kept looking to see what I would discover.

Before I could get too far into a conversation with the homeowner (who I will call “the gardener”), my child took over.  And here’s what the conversation looked like.  No lie.

Child:  What are these?

Gardener:  Those are succulents.

Child:  Can I have one?

Gardener:  Sure. (She snipped off one the size of a penny.)

Child:  Actually, can I have a bigger one?

Gardener:  Sure.  (She snipped off one the size of a cup.)

Child:  Oooh.  What is this?

Gardener:  A bone I found on the beach.  I think it looks like a seagull wing.

Child:  Can I have it?

Gardener:  No, I’d like to keep that.

Child:  Well, if you go to the beach and find another one, can I have that one?

Gardener:  Sure.

Child:  Oooh.  Why do you have these feathers here?

Gardener:  Because I thought they were pretty. (Crows feathers.)

Child:  Can I have one?

Gardener:  Sure.

And on it went until I could drag her from this garden paradise.  I was mortified.  She was completely unperturbed.   She had scored major treasures.

It wasn’t until I got home that I realized I had seen a pro in action.   A four year old child knows better that most adults how to ask for what she wants – and get it. 

I offer these tips from a four year old pro:

  1. Ask like a child.  Ask for what you want with the innocent belief that you just might get what you want. 
  2. No harm in asking.  Ask for what you want and feel no shame or guilt about it.
  3. If you don’t ask, you don’t get.  If you don’t ask, you know for sure what you will get – a big fat nothing.  If you do ask, you just might get what you asked for.
  4. If not successful the first time, adjust course, rephrase and ask again.  Perhaps your target did not understand you the first time.  Restructure the question.  Maybe they will understand and give you want you want.
  5. Always have a back up plan in mind.  If you think your primary “ask” might be out of reach, have an alternative in mind and ask for that.  Your odds of getting that “ask” are greater because the person will feel bad for having turned you down on the first request.
  6. Keep asking until you lose interest or are turned away.  Your chances of success increase in direct proportion to your persistence and interest; however, don’t be irritating or offensive.  Practice common sense and kindness.
  7. People want to be helpful; really, they do.  Most people will want to please you and say yes somehow.  It is human nature.  So keep this in mind when you are making an “ask”.  It will make your delivery so much better and increase your chances of a positive response.

 Go forth and ask.  You just might get what you want.  Wouldn’t that be something?

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Ronna August 28, 2010 at

I’ve been pondering this much. Picturing your adorable daughter and her guileless confidence. And all the excuses I make in my own mind – the attempts to be more “realistic” and “practical” about what I can and cannot ask for – just seem to fade.

I know what I want. Time to start asking.

Ronna recently posted..Living My Life Like It’s Golden


Andrea August 28, 2010 at

Beautifully stated! Thank you, Ronna.


Judy Stone-Goldman August 29, 2010 at

Hi Andrea,
I do love your daughter! (She actually inspired an image in one of my first blogs–I’ll have to find it and share it with you, even though you already know how special she is.) She has such a freedom of expression, which says a lot about her mom’s love of freedom of expression. Absolutely adore her positive expectation about the world.

Judy Stone-Goldman recently posted..Instructions in Moving Forward- What Facebook- Twitter- and the New World of Social Media Have Taught Me


Andrea August 30, 2010 at

I would love to read that post (if I haven’t already). Yes, freedom of expression is a good thing … I hope I will love it as much when she is a teenager! For now, I am incredibly grateful for the reminders she offers me about what it is like to view life as full of possibility.


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