#Weekly experiments / Wise

Week 6 results: It’s OK to ask for things, but I need more practice

In week 6 I set out to find out whether I am entrepreneur material, pushing myself behind the comfort zone by asking people for discount. I knew this would be tough for me because of my upbringing – I very rarely ask people for any kind of help.

My whole life my parents subtly emphasized that I have to be self-reliant and not expect that others should help me. As if life was a zero-sum game, where if I win, others lose.

I love my parents, but this is a wrong thing to teach your kids.

So was I able to suppress the years of this kind of (well-meant) parental advice? Not quite yet, unfortunately.

Looking back I realize I made a mistake at the beginning. When I set out the rules for this experiment, it was wrong to put the “where it would not be considered indecent” disclaimer. With that wording it was easy to make “exceptions”. I would not ask for a discount at our office café, because I was already using their “buy 10 get 1 free” promotion. I could not force myself to ask for a discount at a restaurant because I was there with my husband and a friend and I thought they would be embarrassed. In retrospect, this was just an excuse because I was too timid to ask. Lessons learned – next time no disclaimers.

But I had some success as well.

  • I asked for discount for the fancy coffee beans I buy every week. I was told that the receipt was already issued, but next time I should bring it up earlier and I will get a discount for sure.
  • I asked for discount at lunch, and got small salad for free.
  • I asked for room upgrade at the hotel and I got it.
  • I asked for flight upgrade to business class and was offered 80% discount if I’d be willing to pay.

The largest success was in an unexpected place. I was buying a present for my good friend for her 40th birthday. I found a really nice a necklace made of white gold with pretty clover leaf pendant. The store had a 20% off promotion on white gold items, so when the lady told me the discounted price, it was already within my price range.

I was hesitating to ask for additional discount for 2 reasons. First – I already got a discount, and second – I felt like a cheapo for negotiating the price of a gift for a good friend.

The lady could see I’m thinking about something, so she asked what my target price was. I told her amount more than 100 dollars lower than what she asked. She played with a calculator for a while and gave the final offer. It was 50 dollars lower than her previous price, and she also suggested she will help me to fill out tax refund document to save even more.

So am I entrepreneur material?
I definitely learned that if you politely ask for something while giving the other person easy way out, you can often get it. Ask and ye shall receive.

But I think I need more time to overcome on emotional level the zero-sum view of the world that is so ingrained in my brain.

Judgement: Hell yeah!

This will be a journey longer than one week, but it really makes sense. World is not a zero-sum game, and there are plenty situations when all parties can win together.

 

Plus points

  • Even with all the hesitation, I saved 69 S$ and got some additional perks
  • None of the givers looked particularly unhappy when I asked for favor

Negative points

  • I still get the unpleasant feeling of doing something inappropriate. And I feel even worse when I receive what I asked for.

 

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