Are you afraid of no?
This week I’ve been staying at a beautiful hotel in Houston, Texas, and it wasn’t until after I got here that I realized that I had forgotten my computer mouse at home in Las Vegas.
My laptop does have one of those touch pads, of course, but since I had several hours of video for my upcoming social confidence course to edit, I really wanted something a little more efficient.
I had two options:
1. Uber into town, find an electronics store and buy a mouse that I’d only use for about 4 days.
Or 2. Borrow a mouse. From someone at a hotel, in a city where I know exactly one person who I didn’t have plans to see until my last day here.
I went with option 2, of course, because it sounded like the more fun challenge.
Now, as you might know, most hotels have a lost-and-found, and a lot of hotels will happily lend you things out of it for a couple of days if you need them. But as I learned, while people often leave behind things like phone chargers and books and such – not many people leave behind computer mice. And in this particular case, no one had.
But I wasn’t about to give up that easily. Here’s what happened when I walked up to the front desk to ask about this:
Me: “Hi, I have an optimistic question. You see, I just discovered that I left my computer mouse at home, and I have a lot of work to do that will go incredibly slow without one, so I was hoping you had one in the lost-and-found that I could borrow for a few days?”
Desk Lady (DL), almost a little patronizingly: “Haha, no, I’m sorry, I can tell you without even looking that there’s none in there.”
Me smiling: “Yeah, I thought that was a long shot. I did think about going into town and buying one, but that seems wasteful since I only need it for a few days.” (This is a very green, no waste-type of hotel, so I was playing off that.) “What would you do if you were staying here and really needed one for just a couple of days?” (Helping her identify and empathize with me.)
DL: “Oh, I don’t know, really.” (She stops talking, assuming the conversation is over.)
Me: “Yeah…” (Silence. Made no sign of leaving the desk, as if I was expecting us to come up with an idea.)
DL after a few seconds: “Maybe there’s someone you could borrow one from?” (A little softer now.)
Me: “Yes, I thought about that, but wouldn’t know where to start looking. Unless the hotel has a computer room?” (I knew they didn’t, but I wanted her to think about the hotel’s resources.)
DL: “No, I’m afraid we don’t.” (Short but nicely.)
Me: “Where would you look if you needed something like that for a little bit?” (Again asking her to put herself in my shoes.) “Do you guys have any office equipment at all that’s not in regular use?” (Baiting her to let me know what they have.)
DL: “Well, we do have the back office…”
Me, happily, before she can tell me why it’s off limits, “really? That would be very helpful!” (Giving her credit and encouraging her to feel good about herself.)
DL: “Ok, let me check.”
As she walked away to check, she seemed deep in thought, but when she came back carrying a mouse she was smiling wide – happy to have fixed a problem and helped me out – and I greeted her with an even bigger smile and thank you, of course.
Don’t be afraid of no.
Remember, you don’t have to give up even if you get a no. I got several “no” and “don’t know” answers, but I wasn’t about to stop trying until she confirmed that she either was not willing or able to help me.
By being persistent, smiling, creating the feeling of her and I working together, helping her into my shoes and not quitting or rushing the conversation – we solved the problem. And now, every time I walked past her in the lobby since, she smiles and gives me a wave.
She feels good about herself for helping – even though she likely bent the rules for me, and I had a much more productive week than I otherwise would have had.
Does this stuff always work? No. But I guarantee you’ll get the results you’re after much more often if you have the confidence to stay in the situation and look for solutions longer than what most other people do. If you also manage to make the other person feel good about the conversation – you’ll be golden.
If you would like to build your own social confidence and communication skills, I strongly encourage you to check out my course “The Secrets of Confident Communcation” here – right now at a discounted price!