When you’re willing to ask for what you want but don’t insist on getting it, there are some potential hidden benefits as well. For example, you sometimes bring out the compassion and generosity in others. Several years ago I arrived in Mumbai very late one evening. Despite having a confirmed reservation, the hotel was overbooked and was turning people away. The man in front of me was enraged and became very threatening.
He insisted on getting his way – but there were no rooms. He stormed out, defeated and angry. He was totally insensitive to the fact that it wasn’t the receptionist’s fault. It wasn’t personal.
I walked up to the receptionist and in a gentle voice I said, “I understand your predicament and don’t blame you a bit. I would appreciate it so much if you would help me. I know you don’t have any rooms here, but could you help me find another hotel, close by?” I thought it was wise to ask – as long as I didn’t insist.
She was very nice and apologetic. Remarkably, she said she had some great news. She had completely overlooked that fact that one of the guests had to leave in an emergency and wouldn’t be back. It turned out to be the largest and most expensive suite in the hotel! Because I had been so patient, she gave it to me at lower rate.
The question is, why didn’t she remember this empty room and give it to the angry man in front of me? I think the answer is pretty obvious. His insistence pushed her away and may have even contributed to her “forgetfulness.” When I was talking to her, however, she relaxed and felt less pressure. Her memory returned and I ended up getting a few hours of much-needed sleep. So be sure to ask for what you want, but don’t insist on getting it.