Business Advice

How to maximise your chances of success when asking for a favour

Martin Kovacs /

Need to ask for a favour? How you ask for it will likely have a significant bearing on whether you receive an affirmative response.

For this reason, before broaching the subject, it may be best to consider how you can maximise your chances of a positive outcome.

According to neuromarketing specialist Roger Dooley, author of Brainfluence: 100 Ways to Persuade and Convince Consumers with Neuromarketing, there are a number of techniques that can be employed to successfully ask for favours.

Here’s four of Dooley’s favourite tips, which he shared in a recent blog post.

Reciprocation can be a key

If you do someone a favour first, this can boost your chances of receiving an affirmative response when it comes time to asking for a favour yourself, and the two favours do not necessarily need to be equal in scale.

Dooley notes that reciprocation is one of the “seven principles of influence” devised by well-known US psychology and marketing expert Robert Cialdini.

“So, before you make your request, do something for your target first,” Dooley advises.

“Trying to get a favour from a thought leader or influencer? Share her content on social media. Write a review of his latest book. Refer a potential client or speaking opportunity.”

However, asking for a favour immediately after doing someone a favour can come off as self-serving, so it may be best to allow some time to elapse before doing so, although it will depend on the circumstances.

What do you have in common?

Drawing on one of Cialdini’s other principles, Dooley says highlighting what you have in common with your persuasion target can also increase your chances of success, with social media providing plenty opportunity for research.

“A little stalking on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram will almost surely turn up something,” he writes.

“Perhaps you attended the same school or lived in the same city. Maybe you are both dog owners. Or photography buffs. Pointing out your commonalities before bringing up the favour you need will boost your chances of getting it.”

Deftly directed flattery can’t hurt

Dishing out compliments can help enhance your message, with Dooley noting research shows this can help even when flattery is seen as likely to be insincere.

“To stand out from the canned pitches, use flattery wisely,” he writes.

“Pay the recipients a compliment that shows you are really familiar with them and their work. Whatever you do, don’t sound like a mail merge gone awry.”

Face-to-face is favourable

Asking for a favour in person could be what’s needed, and Dooley points to research demonstrating higher success rates for those who ask in-person, compared to email requests.

“When you ask in person you’ll seem more trustworthy and you’ll probably be surprised by how well you do,” he says.

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Martin Kovacs

Martin Kovacs is a journalist with experience covering the IT, consumer electronics, retail, finance and energy sectors.

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