Asking can be scary. See our article on how to overcome this. It can make you feel needy and vulnerable. This article will give you some tips on asking so that you will feel more confident.
Tip No 1. Believe that asking is the right thing to do
If you believe that asking is not the right thing to do then that will make you fearful. In a previous article I shared 5 Reasons why asking people to freely give their time to be involved in your son or daughter’s life is a good idea. Read through them to counteract any beliefs you may have that what you are about to do isn’t right.
Tip No 2. Know why you are asking
Your reason for asking needs to be more than just “because I want to set up a circle.” Circles are just a means to an end. What is it that you would like to achieve for your son and daughter through a circle? Do you want to help them to make some big decisions about their life? Help them find a job? Help them make friends? Some other reason? If you want to ask someone to come on a trip with you, they will want to know where you are going in order for them to be able to make a decision whether to join you or not.
Tip No 3. Who will you ask?
This can also be a tricky thing to work out. A good way to start is to write down all the places your family members go during a typical week and then make a list of the people you each know in those environments. If you don’t know them very well, spend a few weeks just chatting to them to get to know them. Find out what their interests are, what they do for a living and about their family life. Let them do all the talking.
Next, think about the kind of people you would like in your circle – people with similar interests to your son or daughter, people who have useful skills eg social networking, business, teaching etc, people who are fun and friendly and so on. Then from your list choose who you could ask. Remember that we are all busy. Often the busiest people are the best to ask as they like to get involved in life.
Check out our People You Know in the Places You Go tool to help you identify who to ask to join your Microboard.
Tip No 4. Practice asking
Being able to ask for help is an important skill for all of us. Start practicing it at home, at work, when you are out and about. Ask for little, easy doable things. Could you please help me set the table? Could you please help me find my keys? Could you please help me clean the office?
Tip No 5. How will you ask?
I think this is the key. If you get this part wrong people are less likely to get involved. Avoid doing the Big Ask eg “will you help my son find a job” is too big an ask. People are often happy to be asked to do a small support role that is easy, fun and achievable. You do not want to imply that you are asking the person to take care of your son or daughter for the rest of their lives! So the first ask may be “My son finishes school next year and I’m keen for him to find a job. I’m having trouble thinking of ideas so I thought I’d invite a few people over for afternoon tea to brainstorm some possibilities. Would you be interested in that?” You might ask over the phone, face to face, or send a little afternoon tea invitation. Make it personable and fun.
Remember to avoid the Big Ask. Keep what you are asking for small, simple and a reasonable expectation. You might have come up with a list of ideas in your meeting so at the end of your meeting you might pick one of the ideas and break it down into small stepping stones.
For example, one of the ideas might have been for your son to work in a newsagent because he loves magazines and keeping things tidy. One stepping stone might be to scout around some local newsagencies to find one that has a good feel about it and is a suitable environment for your son to work in. So a small ask might be, when you next go to your local shops to do your shopping, could you check out the newsagent and see if it might be a suitable place.
Asking one person to get in their car and spend several hours checking out newsagents would not be a reasonable thing to ask. Asking all of the people to just add this extra little thing to what they are already doing is reasonable.
Tip No 7. Be patient and celebrate the little things
If you are like me, you will want things to happen straight away. They never do. It’s important to be patient. Building a good life for someone takes time. This is very slow work. Hang in there. Keep your long term dreams in mind but celebrate the little achievements. Finding that there is a newsagency in your community that has the right environment for your son to work in deserves celebrating, even though this is just the very first stepping stone in a long line of them that need to be done.