How to ask? The power of self-interest

The image above is not an illustration of how to behave. The image is about how we can treat others when asking something.

Sometimes (or quite often) it is useless to ask for help assuming the generosity and altruism of a person your turn to. This is especially true if this person is, in your view, a powerful ally with the necessary resources and connections. A better strategy in this case may be to show the likely benefits to a potential ally in case your request is met. 

The main question from your partner you need to answer – even if not said aloud – is this:

“What’s in it for me?”

Aesop’s fable “The Peasant and the Apple-Tree” is a bright illustration of this principle.

A PEASANT had in his garden an Apple-Tree which bore no fruit but only served as a harbor for the sparrows and grasshoppers. He resolved to cut it down, and taking his axe in his hand, made a bold stroke at its roots. The grasshoppers and sparrows entreated him not to cut down the tree that sheltered them, but to spare it, and they would sing to him and lighten his labors. He paid no attention to their request, but gave the tree a second and a third blow with his axe. When he reached the hollow of the tree, he found a hive full of honey. Having tasted the honeycomb, he threw down his axe, and looking on the tree as sacred, took great care of it.

Self-interest alone moves some men.


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