Excuse me. May I bother you for a quick question? Have you ever had someone ignore you or act like you are an inconvenience? Does that type of response shut you down? Or do you see that behavior as a challenge?
I chose to interpret someone’s dismissal as a “double dog dare” early in my life. Here’s what happened:
The holidays are upon us. Now is the perfect time to ask for what you want. Whether you are trying to finalize year-end work reports or are out shopping, don’t hold yourself back because you don’t want to bother someone. Instead, be a polite disruptor.
You may be saying, “Really? You want me to bother strangers or interrupt a person who is hard at work?” Yes. Resist the temptation to walk away.
Try using the following phrase:
“Excuse me, I hate to interrupt you but ….”
Better yet, eliminate the apology. Politely ask for assistance:
“Hi. Can you please help me with…?”
“Hello. Are you the one who would know about …?”
Think about it. You don’t mind being interrupted as long as people are considerate. Thoughtlessness is irritating, but politeness is appreciated.
In the Ask Outrageously Study, a third of people reported they are likely to deny a request when the requester is inconsiderate or has bad manners.
Here’s your dare. Politely bother someone this week. Interrupt and ask a question. Ask a salesperson for help. Inquire about a project or training you want to explore. Ask co-workers for needed information or additional support. No matter whom you interrupt, pay close attention to their reactions and yours.
But what about the eye roll? Some people may look flustered or perturbed, or roll their eyes. You’ll get a few of those responses. Process these reactions as feedback only. Discover how you feel when someone acts as if you are keeping them from their job or tasks of the day.
How do you manage your emotions? Pretend you’re a detective, and become a neutral observer. Identify which requests are easiest to make and when asking isn’t worth your time or energy. When do you feel uneasy or want to leave? Watch to discover which approaches work and which don’hat if you disturb something important? When you feel you have unnecessarily interrupted or crossed the line, you can apologize or revise your request. However, people can be aggravated at a disruption to their conversation about the upcoming weekend party or a fantasy football team. If you are asking for assistance or to get work done, it’s their issue.
Can you practice on your family? They are the toughest. Ask your kids for something outrageous like performing extra chores or going with you to a movie instead of their friends. Ask a significant other to eat at a new restaurant or try a fun activity instead of sitting on the couch. If you can persuade your own family, you can persuade practically anyone.
Are you speaking up? Recent news reveals the power of voicing concerns about bad situations. Speaking up is required to correct abuse and poor work environments. Likewise, staying silent and compliant limits your potential. When a client asks you to reduce your reasonable fee for no legitimate reason, disrupt your own thinking before agreeing. Wouldn’t you prefer to “donate” your time to a non-profit instead? You may need to politely disrupt your leader’s perception of you and your aspirations. Speak up about your desire for a promotion or assignment to different projects.
Be a polite disruptor for the rest of the year. I double dog dare you!
Journey On and Ask Outrageously!
About Linda: A recognized authority on negotiations, workplace issues and strategic communication, Linda Swindling, JD, CSP is an author, media expert, a “recovering” employment attorney, and a professional speaker. Contact us to book Linda to speak at your event.