“It never hurts to ask.”
We often hear that said. But is it true? Recently someone asked me for a favor. The request came in an impersonal form e-mail. I had some business dealings with this person many years ago. Since then, I had heard from them only once when they asked another favor.
I was being asked to promote something on my social media network. The request did not offer an excerpt, a preview, a sample or any compelling reason why I should offer my assistance and ping the people on my e-mail list.
I thought, “Why should I help?” The implied assumption that I owed this individual something, or that I should help for no reason other than that they asked, seemed a bit off-putting. Have I helped an unfamiliar person before? Yes, there have been circumstances where I was glad to do so. But “Do this for me because our paths crossed” is not a good reason. Sometimes it does hurt to ask. Sometimes it comes across as inappropriate or entitled. Asking someone for a favor when you have no relationship with them is a bad idea. Naturally, most people like to help — but very few people like to waste their time or energy. And nobody likes to feel someone has taken advantage of them.
There’s nothing wrong with asking for a favor or assistance. Just make sure you ask the right person for the right reason in the right way. Otherwise, you might damage your reputation and your relationships.