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Need to ask a favor? Here are 8 ways to make it less awkward

Everyone needs to ask a favor every now and then.

If asking for a favor makes you feel awkward or like an inconvenience, you’re in good company. However, it doesn’t have to be as unnatural as we often make it. We all need help from time to time, and most people want to help if they can.

Communications professor for the University of Utah, Dr. Jennifer Cummings, shares better ways to ask a favor.


8 Better Ways to Ask a Favor

1. Change your mindset. We all need help sometimes and most people want to help if they can

  • You may have been rejected or embarrassed before or feel like it’s a sign of weakness
  • Most people want to help if they think it’s needed and appreciated

2. Start with “I have a favor to ask you”

  • Gives them an extra second to prepare, and say I know I’m asking something above and beyond and I see it as a kindness to me if you do it
    • “Will you cover for me at the meeting?” vs. “I have a favor to ask you. Will you cover for me at the meeting?”

3. Say what the favor is before asking them to commit

  • No: “Hey are you doing anything Saturday?”
  • Yes: “I need a ride to the airport Saturday. Would you be willing to take me?”
    • Able vs available vs willing

4. Don’t muddle the ask – say it straight

  • Don’t clutter with a lot of fillers that weaken it
  • “I was just wondering, and you’re probably too busy, but if there is any way, it would be so helpful…”

5. Explain why you need it and why you’re asking them in particular

  • Would you proofread my letter? It’s important that it be good and I don’t trust my proofreading.
  • I’m asking you because you’re such a good writer and I trust you to be honest with me
    • (not because you’re the most convenient or I thought you’d say yes)

6. Acknowledge their sacrifice

  • “I know this is inconvenient and will probably make you late. I’m even more grateful.”

7. Convey the Urgency  

  • Do you still have 5 other people you could ask or am I your last hope?

8. Let them say yes while making it okay to say no 

  • “If you can’t take it on I completely understand”
  • “If you don’t feel comfortable I won’t be offended”
  • Let them feel like they said YES willingly, not manipulated or guilted

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