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How to ask someone for something that's a mild inconvenience for them

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Anonymous at Taro Communitya month ago

I'll be honest, I'm a people pleaser and I hate saying no/standing up for myself. But sometimes you need to ask someone to do something that will help you a ton but is something they dont HAVE to do.

Classic examples

  • When the waiter got your order wrong and asking them to remake it
  • If you need to ask your coworker to help you out with something
  • Needing to ask someone to generate something for you real quick

How to ask someone to do something without annoying people or over apologizing while being empathetic and kind?

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Discussion

(5 comments)
  • 3
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    Team Lead (people manager) at Mistplay
    a month ago

    One related example I have is while moving a couple times over the past years I’ve asked friends for help and sometimes couldn’t have done it without them. I say, “Hey I’m moving and was wondering if I could have your help Sunday afternoon.” And then I buy dinner afterward.

    But also I’ve helped other different friends move quite a few times. So it’s kind of this society/community thing where we sometimes need each other, say thanks, and can pay it forward when we have the opportunity to help someone else.

  • 3
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    Team Lead (people manager) at Mistplay
    a month ago

    To avoid being entirely metaphorical, there are many things you can do to help others as a software engineer even as a first-day new grad:

    • Fix the team’s onboarding documentation and/or make a supplemental guide of your own to help the next person
    • Pair program with others and help with their problems (if you’re new you can start by helping someone else new)
    • Ask for feedback and offer to give real constructive feedback as well, maybe informally in a coffee chat or similar
  • 4
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    Team Lead (people manager) at Mistplay
    a month ago

    The main question here may actually be about the exact sentence(s) to use before and after getting help. At a restaurant it is the waiter’s job to help, so just being thankful for them helping in the moment works (life hack: less annoying to have someone say thanks several times than sorry several times).

    But in a work setting you have a huge advantage because you can build good relationships over the long term, including by helping each other directly. So it shouldn’t really be a big deal when you’re reaching out. If you don’t know the person yet you could still:

    • Be clear and concise
    • Make it obvious why this is important/urgent
    • Show why you need their help specifically, not someone else’s (and if relevant, what you have already tried and gotten stuck with yourself)
  • 3
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    Tech Lead/Manager at Meta, Pinterest, Kosei
    a month ago

    Most young people are people-pleasers, but that doesn't have to be a bad thing! I love Ryan's answers, esp about being clear and concise. A few of my thoughts:

    First, my recommendation will change a lot based on the person you're requesting help from matters a lot. In the workplace, incentives are usually aligned so your coworker also benefits by helping you. A random stranger in the store will be less inclined.

    Flattery helps a lot:

    I've noticed you're so good at putting presentations together and I'd love to get your eyes on mine.

    Make explicit the benefit if the person helps you, either in terms of how much it'll help you, or how much it may help them.

    I've been struggling with this for a whole week and I think just 15 minutes of your time would unblock me and this whole project. I'd really appreciate it.

    Finally, just to reiterate Ryan's point, make clear what you want. The quotes I have above don't actually do a great job of this 😅 Instead of asking for feedback on a presentation, which is really open-ended, say something like:

    Slide 8 and 9 are the places where I'd love your feedback on how I presented the data, I hope it takes < 10 min for you!

  • 2
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    Software Engineer @ Wikimedia Foundation
    a month ago

    I have and still often worry about being annoying and inconveniencing people! I think effective easy-to-remember reminders for me are:

    • just say ittttt
    • and better in a tone of assertion than apologetically
    • asking someone for a favor/help is a way to win them over