Don’t Make These 5 Crucial Mistakes When Asking For A Favor

If you want others to help, be smart about it.


Moreno Zugaro

2 years ago | 5 min read

We all need a favor from time to time because it saves us tons of time and energy.

Moving becomes a lot easier if you don’t break your neck while carrying your couch down three flights of stairs by yourself.

Getting your coworker to share their knowledge is much better than rummaging through 600-page reports until you pass out with a keyboard imprint on your face.

Calling on someone to water your plants while you’re on vacation makes coming home much more pleasant than facing a postmodern version of Apocalypse Now when you open your door.

As a coach, others ask me for favors on the daily. Even though I love to help, the wrong approach can kill my willingness to support like explosive diarrhea a swimming pool date. Here are the most common traps to avoid.

The Worst Email I Ever Received

Before we get into the juicy part, let’s look at an example that shows you how not to do it.

I’m by no means famous, but this is just one of the many requests I receive every week through my email and Instagram.

I don’t even know where to start. Eye-watering grammar? Check. Pushing me to invest my time without giving any reason to do so? Check. Demanding tone? Check. Overall vibe of “I’ve lived in a cave and don’t know how to human”? Ch-ch-ch-check.

Needless to say, I didn’t even bother to click any of the links. But what made me shake my head like a sheep stuck in an electric fence might at least be good for a chuckle on your side, so my pain isn’t wasted. With that out of the way, let’s look at the biggest mistakes people make when asking for a favor.

#1 Not Catering to the Other Person’s Ego

We all like our egos stroked.

Too many people make the mistake of only focusing on what they want, but unless you’re talking to a lifelong friend, others don’t care about you nearly as much as about themselves.

If you want someone to do you a favor, emphasize what’s in it for them — or at least cater to their ego.

Tell your coworker they’re the only one knowledgeable or skilled enough to help. Praise your friend’s strength and hint at some free pizza after carrying your couch. Let your neighbor know they’re the only one you trust to take care of your precious Bonsai tree.

Here’s another tip: Be subtle about it. Most people can smell bullshit from a mile away, so don’t say anything you don’t mean. Also, the goal isn’t to exploit others’ good nature, so whenever you can, offer some value in return.

Lesson #1: Most people have a big ego, so cater to it.

#2: Picking the Wrong Time

Emotions are fleeting but powerful.

Studies have shown again and again that people in a good mood are more likely to help others, but this effect diminishes after about 20 minutes. Add to this a time constraint and you have an obvious, yet surprisingly often disregarded rule for asking others for help:

Don’t ask someone for a favor if their grandma just died or they’re late for their flight.

It’s mind-boggling to see how often people disregard this simple rule. I’d need about 50 hands to count all the instances I got home from a long day of work only to have my mum or girlfriend demanding my attention the second I set foot into the door. At that moment, I would’ve said no to $100, let alone doing someone else a solid one.

Be considerate of other people’s time and mood. If it isn’t urgent, pick the right moment. A little wait can increase your chances of a yes by a truckload.

Lesson #2: Wait until the other is in a good mood or at least not stressed out.

#3: Forgetting They Have a Life As Well

Believe it or not, most people are pretty busy — and you’re not the only one knocking on their door for favors.

A few months ago, a friend asked me to help him move a bunch of boxes, books, and other bulky gear. While I’m always up for carrying heavy stuff and listening to bad jokes about how I can skip the gym for that day, there was a teeny-tiny problem. Without any prior announcement, he called me saying “I’m downstairs right now, can you help me move?”

Saying “hey, I need you now for something I knew in advance but didn’t bother to tell you about” is a surefire way to get a “no.” That doesn’t mean you have to call my secretary three months in advance to schedule an appointment, but be a little considerate. I won’t drop my all and everything to make up for your poor planning, and neither will others.

Lesson #3: Most people are busy, so respect their schedule and let them know in advance.

#4: Being Entitled

Nobody likes to be taken for granted.

If you’ve ever been on the receiving end of an entitled demand, you know what it’s like. You feel neither appreciated, heard, considered, respected, nor treated like a human being. Making someone else feel like that is a surefire way to rejection.

Look at the email above — there’s not even a question mark, which means my willingness to help when reading it plummeted like the stock market during the pandemic crash.

Even if you know you’ll get a yes, ask instead of demand. The other person will be much more committed because they’ve decided for themself instead of you shoving it down their throat.

Lesson #4: Never take help for granted — ask, even if you know the answer will be yes.

#5: Not Saying the Magic Word

Character is how you act when there’s nothing left to gain.

What you’ve learned so far will help you get someone to do you a favor. It’s your duty as a good human being to appreciate that. So please, say thank you.

There’s nothing that trips me up more than when someone messages me on Instagram, I take time to consider his situation, think of a solution to his problems, share it with him, then get radio silence.

Lesson #5: When someone helps you out, appreciate it. Pay it forward. Say thanks. It’s not that hard to make this world a better place.

Wrap-Up To Help You Increase Your Chances of Someone Doing You a Favor

Life isn’t a single-player game — from time to time, you need support from others. While most people are willing to help, you can tremendously increase your chances of getting what you want by staying clear of a few traps, so remember these lessons:

  1. Cater to the other person’s ego.
  2. Don’t ask someone who’s in a bad mood or short on time.
  3. Respect others’ schedules and let them know in advance.
  4. Ask instead of being entitled.
  5. Say thanks and make the world a better place.

Getting favors isn’t about exploiting people for your own gain, but about helping each other in a way that makes both parties feel good about what they’ve done.


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Moreno Zugaro

Thought-provoking personal growth & slightly inappropriate humor | 600K views | Join 1000+ men on the path of authentic self-improvement:







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