I saw this tweet from Ryan today and it reminded me of an interaction I had with someone in my life this weekend. This prompted me to share my list of three questions to ask yourself before you ask someone a favor.
How close are you to your friend?
I use the term friend to mean whomever you are asking a favor of. Hopefully you should know better than to rely on an enemy.
If I’m asking a favor of Mary Ellen or another super close friend, I wouldn’t feel out of line if I just jumped right into it and asked for the favor. We are close enough to stay in communication routinely so I hope that she understands that her friendship is valuable to me and I do not see her as just an end to my means. If you’re not close to this friend and haven’t talked to them in a while, please approach with more care and tact. Realize that you’ve neglected this relationship for whatever reason and to not at the very least inquire about his or her life is off putting.
Did you ask for a favor the last time you talked to your friend?
There is someone in my life right now who texted me this weekend. Before even reading her text I knew she needed something and groaned. I think I even put off opening her text message. I came to this accurate prediction because she has developed a consistent pattern of only speaking to me when she needed something. I cannot remember the last time we hung out and caught up on each other’s lives that was not initiated by me. I ended up texting back an avoidance of her favor. It worked out that I was honestly busy and am working both my jobs this week. However, I doubt I’d honor her favor even if I did have the time.
There’s an analogy in Stephen R. Covey’s Seven Habits of Highly Effective People that I think is pertinent. View your relationships with people as individual bank accounts. Have you made deposits in the relationships? Cashing in a favor is withdrawing from your bank account. Doing a favor or being a friend is equivalent to depositing. Is your relationship account balanced? Are you overdrawn? Ask yourself this before making your request.
Are you abreast more or less with your friend’s life?
Do you know what’s going on with your friend’s life? Do you know how his work/personal/extracurricular life is going? What did he do over the weekend? If you haven’t the slightest clue what he’s up to in the last 6 months, you probably have no business trying to cash in a favor. Again, if this person has no idea what’s going on with you and the first thing you do is ask if he or she can fix your router or debug your website’s php code, more than likely, you’re watering some of his resentment.