Help me help you

In my career, the best way to ensure I’ll get a positive response when I ask someone a favour is to do the work and help them help me.

Take this:

“Hey Sally, I need to develop a module that does XYZ. How do you think I should approach that?”

And compare with this:

“Hey Sally, I need to develop a module that does XYZ. I’ve checked a couple of past projects in which you did that, developed some proof of concepts, and pared down my options to the following ones:

1) Do it like ABC.
2) Do it like DEF.

What option would you go for? Any help or feedback would be appreciated!”

In the second option, I’m making it easier for Sally to respond. She knows what I’ve tried, she has more context about what I want to do (since I’m providing examples), and if she’s short on time she can simply answer “#1” or “#2”. If she has time, she can then provide me with additional feedback about it.

This is especially important in remote working because people might respond later, so they won’t have time to do back-and-forth communication.

Before asking someone for a favour or opinion, do the best you can to make it extremely easy and convenient for them to help you. This will increase your odds of being helped and will send a very positive message to everyone.

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