To be successful, you must learn the best way to ask for things. Here are five tips to improve your asking:

1.     Ask clearly. Vague or fuzzy questions confuse people, making it difficult for them to provide you with the information or help you desire. Think clearly about your request. Use a notepad to jot down words that have the greatest impact. For example, if you ask “How am I doing?” without specifics, it may take time for the other person to understand what you mean. Instead, try “How is my attitude toward clients? Do you see room for improvement? Where?”

2.     Ask with confidence. People who ask confidently get more than those who are hesitant and uncertain. When you’ve figured out what you want to ask for, do it with boldness and confidence. Practice in the mirror or write out your question in advance. And try to have an open mind and heart when receiving a response. (It’s normal to feel intimidated by the experience, but try not to show it.) Be prepared to hear the unexpected or unwanted. Don’t get defensive if you hear something you don’t like or that makes you uncomfortable. It’s good to get the observations and insights of others. It will inspire you to stop and reflect and to make a shift for the better.

3.     Ask consistently. Top producers know that they can’t quit if they ask once and don’t get the response they’re seeking. In prospecting, for example, there are usually four or five “no’s” before you get a “yes.” If the approach you’re using doesn’t seem to be working, try a different way of asking and keep asking until you find the answers you need. For example, if you find that a co-worker is reluctant to offer an opinion when you seek feedback about your performance, ask another team member who is more receptive. People don’t normally go around asking others how they’re doing, so be prepared to ask more than once before you hear a clear—and useful—answer.

4.     Ask creatively. In this age of global competition, your asking may get lost in the crowd, unheard by the decision-makers you hope to reach. The way around this is to ask in an unusual way. Use your creativity to dream up a high-impact presentation. Bear in mind that asking someone to evaluate you can be awkward or time-consuming. Show respect for them by finding the ideal time to ask. Here’s one way to engage the insights of a superior: “I highly value your opinion and honest perspective and would love to know what you think I could be doing differently that would make your life easier and our clients happier.”

5.     Ask sincerely. When you really need help, people will respond. Sincerity means dropping your facade and being willing to be vulnerable. Tell it the way it is, lumps and all. Don’t worry if your presentation isn’t perfect; ask from your heart. Keep it simple and people will open up to you.

Like learning a foreign language, asking takes continual practice until it becomes a regular, reflexive habit. The sooner you build up your “ask” muscle, the sooner you’ll see the results you’ve been waiting for.

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Jack Canfield, America’s #1 Success Coach, is founder of the billion-dollar book brand Chicken Soup for the Soul© and a leading authority on Peak Performance and Life Success. If you’re ready to jump-start your life, make more money, and have more fun and joy in all that you do, get your FREE success tips from Jack Canfield now at: www.FreeSuccessStrategies.com.