It’s so easy to be terrified by “the ask” that you want to make – whether that’s for advice or a job or to create a partnership or for funding. It’s as if there’s this sense of shame and embarrassment that you would actually want something to come out of the meeting.
Your meeting has a purpose. There’s something you are trying to create in the world and some role that you hope the person across the table from you might play in making that creation happen.
Yes, you must explore, you must understand one another….and it’s fabulous to dream together. There’s no way to properly ask for something before understanding who the other person is, what they are trying to accomplish in the world, and whether the thing you’re hoping to do is something that connects with who they are, where they are in their lives, and their dreams.
But if the moment you come to that thing, that “ask”, if you find that you’re muttering quickly under your breath; or, just as bad, if what you really are hoping will happen comes across as just one in a list of things that you rattle off all too quickly in the last five minutes of the meeting – if that happens you have to ask yourself why you had the meeting in the first place.
A great test: ask yourself afterwards whether there’s a chance, any chance at all, that the person you met with doesn’t actually know the most important thing you were hoping would happen.
And then, think which mistake you’d rather make: getting turned down, or having the person walk out the door not really understanding what you hoped to accomplish in the first place?