Monday, August 22, 2011


It is fascinating how children will not stop asking for the things that they want. Relentlessly, they will pose a question over and over or try a slightly different approach to get the much desired ‘Yes’. 
When they realize they can’t have something, they will come up with the next best thing and start the process all over again. In adulthood they will have ‘finally’ been worn down and ‘learnt’ not to be so demanding. HOW TRAGIC!

My youngest son is 9 years old and still possesses the art of asking. He is a very fine example of the relentlessly hopeful with seemingly never ending persistence. As you can imagine as a parent that is pretty wearing but boy, does he get results! Let me share a couple of examples.

Recently at a market he approaches a vendor and asks:” Can I have this skateboard for free?” The vendor is perplexed and of course declines. So my son tries again, this time with another object of desire:” Can I have this T-shirt for free?” Now the vendor starts to smile but again, gently but firmly declines. After the third question for something else, the vendor declines once more but finally gives in and offers him a brand spanking new wallet!? My son is over the moon, says a heartfelt thank you and gives the vendor the biggest smile.

The other day we went into a bike store. Again my son starts his magic and says:” Can I have this BMX for free?” Of course the vendors tells him - no way! A few minutes later, he requests:” Can I have this bike shirt for free?” “NO!” Then:” Can I have this pump for free?” “I am sorry but I can’t give you any of this stuff for free. Oh, but wait, I have some stickers and a key ring you can have!”


The pattern seems to be always the same. Three attempts of asking and finally he gets at least something in return for his perseverance. Typically it is not exactly what he wanted, however he is always better off and relishes the reward for his relentlessness. When he first started this, I was a little embarrassed and tried to discourage him from asking people to give him something for free.

To this he said:” But mum, if I don’t ask, then how can I get?” There it was - the truth, the only reality that really makes sense. As kids we all did the same. We kept on asking until we got. Now that we have been reconditioned, we find it tough to ask - FOR ANYTHING! Help, support, the things we really want.....

So I put it to you. Learn from our kids and get back to the pre-conditioned state of kindly asking. Not just the once but three times! If you are in negotiations, try to ask for the business even if you have to change approach or tweak the proposal until it suits.

Never be scared again to pose the question or take “No” for an answer. You know that if you don’t ask, you certainly won’t get anything! And if you don’t ask often enough, you might just be one ‘No’ away from a ‘Yes”!

May your summer be as educational as mine :)
See you soon,