Sometimes, there IS harm in asking!

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Should I ask for that day off?

Should I ask for that pay rise?

I should ask that nurse to change her roster around.

I can ask the receptionist to add payroll to her job description.

Why shouldn’t I ask? They can just say no. “There’s no harm in asking.”

I’ve got news for you. Sometimes, there IS harm in asking.

Whether you are an employer, contractor or employee, I have found it wise to be discerning with your requests.

Is what you are asking for benefiting the other person? Is it a reasonable request? Does it contradict any agreements the two of you have had? Have you demonstrated the flexibility with this person that you are requesting of them? Are you mindful of their situation?

If you ask for something that others perceive as unreasonable, they will be left with an altered perception of you. If it happens a number of times, they may start to be suspicious of your intentions towards them. They see you as someone who takes advantage of them. They can feel less ‘safe’ with you, and put their guard up. And this is unhelpful and damaging for your relationships.

It is perilous to precipitate anyone becoming more guarded around you. What you are in fact doing is damaging the trust that has been built.

Trust is a result of many instances of positive interaction and positive intention. It is the basis of all successful relationships. As a participant in those relationships, your actions and behaviour are either building trust or destroying it. There is little neutral ground.

Your desire for something does not necessarily mean it is either appropriate or acceptable to the other party. The best method of determining how the other person will regard your request is to put yourself in their position. Consider:

  1. Whether your request is moral, professional, ethical, legal
  2. The history of your relationship with them. Is there trust and respect? Do you meet their requests and help them when needed?
  3. What barriers that may be standing in the way of them agreeing to your request, such as lack of know-how, lack of time, lack of confidence
  4. How does the other person benefit from your request

If you cannot answer positively on these points, there may well be harm in asking.