The Art of Asking

At what point did we give up our sense of connection to one another; the very consciousness, awareness, and sense of community that makes us human?  Instead of demanding or expecting what we want from someone… Why don’t we just ASK for it?


 The Art of Asking

I want to share with you “The Art of Asking”, and how it might be a more effective approach to getting what you want than expecting or demanding has been.  I hope this post plants the seed of thought that “maybe we’re doing it wrong”, and could reevaluate the way we accept payment and gifts for the products and services that we provide to others.

If you’re a “payment needs to be quantifiable” type of person, this concept of asking (and trusting) instead of price-tagging may be a bit alien to you.  My goal is to help open up the possibility of an alternative option that may bring you heftier remuneration.

I invite you to watch this video of Amanda Fucking Palmer on TED Talks.  She speaks on how providing her music online, for free, then ASKING for unspecified amounts of money from her fans has brought in higher revenues (and higher human connection) than simply putting a price tag on a CD ever has:


On the same note, have you seen “Craigslist Joe“?  It’s a documentary where a guy lives for 30 days without money, food, or transportation, and gets everything he needs just by asking online strangers for help.

Further, in Dr David J Lieberman’s book “Make Peace With Anyone“, he talks about how you can create a connection – even repair damaged relationships – with others by asking them to help you.

Inside all of us, lies an inherent need for connection.  We thrive when we reach out to others; we thrive when we help one another.  It’s not such a foreign concept when you think about it.

When is the last time you helped someone else, at no return, just because they asked?  Or maybe they didn’t even ask, and you volunteered your help!  How did that experience make you feel?  You probably felt happier, euphoric.  You have just increased the level of trust between you and that other person.


Why do we “make” people pay us?

If you didn’t already know, photography is a source of income for me.  Being raised by two entrepreneurs (one of which is VERY left-brain), I have ingrained in me the guidelines of “everything has a price” and “don’t break the bank“.  Over the past three years, I have run my business with a strictness about how much a client pays me for my photographic services, and even strict about the methods by which they pay me.  It’s always been a source of discomfort for me, and I never understood why.

As a business person, when you provide a product or service to a client, the interpreted value of what you’ve provided will vary in the minds from client to client.  For example, two family photography sessions:  For the same product and service, one client complained to friends about my rates, whereas another client happily paid the rate and added a $75 tip on top!  It’s like Amanda with her Kickstarter project; she was hoping for $100,000, but the fans’ interpreted value of her music was much higher than she anticipated, and she ended up with over $1,000,000!!


I’m going to try it, myself

My good friend Jamie is a successful Network Marketer who recently earned herself a brand new white Mercedes Benz.  In mid-March, she is having a celebration party, which I’ll be flying to Winnipeg to attend.  I’ve offered to help out wherever needed (thinking she’d post me at the welcome door, or on cleanup crew).  Surprisingly to me, she asked me to photo-document the event.  For the services she wanted, I would have charged a corporate client $800.  But for her – because she’s a friend that I want to help out, and because I want to see first-hand what kind of power this “asking” idea has – I’ve told her that I’ll be her photographer for free, and she can “thank” me however she sees fit.

The responding gratitude was overwhelming, and brought forth those warm and fuzzy feelings.  Our give-and-accept gestures have laid another brick in the building of a strong friendship together.  Just by way of my gesture, I feel more connected to Jamie, and I hope she feels more connected to me as well.

Could this benefit you?

So, service providers:  Musicians, Artists, Photographers, Hair Stylists, Estheticians, Laywers, Performers, Bloggers… Once you’ve covered expenses (because, let’s be reasonable, you don’t want to LOSE your business!), what are some services you offer that you could ASK for payment of value provided, instead of putting a sticker on?

  • Could it be possible that by giving your clients the power to decide for themselves what your services are worth, you may end up with higher payment than you had expected?
  • Or perhaps non-currency payment that benefits you in a greater way?
  • Might that trusting vulnerability of “pay me what I’m worth” encourage you to improve your skills, helping you grow as a person and a business, therby pushing you ahead of your competition?
  • Could it be possible that by trusting your clients to be fair to you, you may end up with more referral clients than ever before?  Talk about setting yourself apart from the pack!

In closing, I hope that in your personal and business endeavors, you find value in “The Art of Asking”.  I hope you’ll leave this post more open to understanding the power of human connection, and how reaching out to ask (and trust) another holds the potential to deliver more revenue and more meaningful relationships than you previously thought possible.


Share with us!

Have you tried this approach?  What was the scenario?  How did it pan out for you?  Use the comments section below to share some more insight on this topic!

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