We all need to ask for a favor from time to time and we all have to do favors. Some people don’t believe in favors period (“I don’t want any favors”) because they are totally heinous but at some point, all of us face lending a helping hand.
It’s possible to ask for and do too many favors. They’re like the morning after pill and should be used sparingly. And there’s a protocol for making an ask that so many people don’t seem to know anymore.
There’s no way I’m an authority on anything but falling naked down your stairs holding a Vitamin Water. I am a fucking nutbag and do favors for people all the time. I’ll drive to the deep valley to set up my dentist’s sister’s Tumblr. I’ll probably just start folding your laundry when I come over. Sure, take my treasured DVD and never return it because you’re a flake. I find it very hard to say no.
My therapist says that I don’t ask for help to the point that it’s a serious detriment and that I constantly put myself in emotionally or physically dangerous situations because I’m like, “NO! MOLLY’S DOING IT!”
So you see what I’m saying, right? Favors are kind of emotional and like any emotional thing, they need to be treated with sensitivity. I think people just used to do that back in the day because they had manners, but we’re living in a world where people use their phone in the middle of conversations and eat like animals in public.
Again, I am not a manners expert by any means, but because of my higher than normal experience in this particular area, I think I can do you the favor of telling you how to ask people to help make your life easier/better.
– Ask yourself what you specifically need and how much of the task you can burden this person with. Moving is a great example. I have friends who have arrived at someone’s house to help them move and they don’t even have their shit in boxes. What would be appropriate is to have them move only the things that you can’t move yourself. Pizza and warm beer is not as good as being cut loose when you’ve moved the couch and other heavy items. People want to go home and fuck or see a movie, not spend more time with you, sorry.
– When asking over email, keep your message short, friendly, maybe even a little funny. Long emails are a bummer and when the person on the other end of them realizes it’s just an epic tale of how you need their help by retweeting their new e-book, it’s going to leave a bad taste in your mouth. Here’s an example. “Hey! I know that this type of email are always annoying but is there anyway you have time to read the script I’ve been writing and give notes? I really value your opinion. No immediate rush but I’ve attached it below if you’re interested. And I’d love to see you in person soon maybe we could grab dinner (my treat) and you can tell me about your trip to _____.” And even that feels a little long. But it shows that you care about the person you’re asking a favor from, are aware that it would likely be putting them out and it’s not impersonal.
– When it’s a particularly sucky favor, offer something in exchange for their help that doesn’t take up any more of their time. Even better, surprise them with it so they don’t decline out of fear of seeming like they need to be bribed. Get them a gift card. If you’re broke, bake them cookies to take home. Everyone loves free coffee or books or new lip gloss. And pay for their gas, you dipshit.
– Never, ever bring up something they’ve done for you in the past. A guy did this to me once saying that he’s always supported my blog (which I never even ask for or know exactly what that means) and I ripped him a new asshole. Once you’ve helped someone out, it’s behind you. Unless you’re basically living someone’s life for you, you are owed nothing.
– If you’re asking for a loan from a friend, show them your intention to pay them back as quickly as possible by letting them know you’re going to give them back $100 a month for eight months. Or whatever. Just don’t be a lazy slob when asking someone for the ultimate favor.
A couple of other favor-related notes.
– Thank them via your words as much as possible. If they text you that they’ll be late to help you hang your new shelves, tell them you’re really thankful for their help and to be safe. If you see them struggling to carry a box, say, “I’m sorry this blows. I really appreciate you taking time to do this.” Just be nice.
– Another note about “thank you”s – write them a nice email or send them a card thanking them when the task is completed.
– No means no. Few people have the balls to deny their friend a favor (or they’ll say yes and never do it). Understand that this is not the person who’s right for the task and find someone else. Again, no one is owed favors.
That’s the big stuff. There are lots of other little things that are actually big things you can do, but I’m bored of writing like I’m someone’s bitchy grandma.