All You Have to Do is Ask with Wayne Baker

How often do you ask for what you need or desire? Whether it be in our marriage, workplace, or among friends, 77% of people have issues asking for help or advice.

Today we have Wayne Baker, sociologist, consultant, speaker, and the author of All You Have to Do is Ask. His mission is to empower people to fulfill their purpose, goals, and visions so they can become more successful. Wayne discovered that those who ask for help or advice, and also give back, were less frustrated and more effective in all areas of their lives.

He talks about how to practice thoughtful intentional requests that people will be happy to fulfill. He also teaches how to create a psychologically safe environment where our kids feel safe to express their needs and wants.

Learn how the simple art of asking can unlock new ideas and solutions, help you get ahead faster and easier, and solve most of the problems that are weighing you down in this episode!


Wayne Baker

Wayne Baker is an American sociologist, author, consultant, and speaker. He is the Robert P. Thome Professor of Business Administration at the University of Michigan Ross School Of Business, and Faculty Director of the Center for Positive Organizations. He is a co-founder and board member of Give and Take, Inc., a provider of tools based on his new book, ALL YOU HAVE TO DO IS ASK.

Prior to joining the Michigan faculty, he was on the faculty at the University of Chicago business school. He earned his Ph.D. in sociology from Northwestern University and was a post-doctoral research fellow at Harvard University. Dr. Baker resides in Ann Arbor, Michigan, with his wife, their son, and a Birman cat.

All You Have to Do is Ask

A set of tools for mastering the one skill standing between us and success: the ability to ask for the things we need to succeed.

Imagine you’re on a deadline for a big project, and feeling overwhelmed. Or you’re looking for a new job, but can’t seem to get your foot in the door. Or you’re facing a personal challenge, and just don’t know what to do. What do these problems have in common? They can all be solved simply by reaching out to a colleague, friend, acquaintance, or wider network and making an ask. Studies show that asking for help makes us better and less frustrated at our jobs. It helps us find new opportunities and new talent. It unlocks new ideas and solutions, and enhances team performance. And it helps us get the things we need outside the workplace as well. And yet, we rarely give ourselves permission to ask. Luckily, the research shows that asking—and getting—what we need is much easier than we think.

Here, Wayne Baker shares dozens of tools—used at companies like Google, GM, and IDEO—that individuals, teams, and leaders can use to make asking for help a personal and organizational habit, such as: SMART criteria for making an ask, “plug-and-play” routines that make requests a standard component of meetings, mini-games that incentivize asking within teams, and the Reciprocity Ring and Givitas, tools that allow people to tap into the giving power of a network.

What You’ll Learn

  • How Wayne Baker and his wife created the “reciprocity ring”
  • People are always willing to help, but struggle with asking for what they need.
  • It’s not enough to motivate people to ask, but to give them the tools to do it.
  • How you can practice getting better at asking for what you need
  • If you want to make a good request, it has to be thoughtful and intentional.
  • SMART criteria for asking.
    • Specific – What exactly are you asking for?
    • Meaningful – Why are you asking?
    • Action – What is your plan?
    • Realistic – Is it a feasible request?
    • Time – What is the deadline?
  • How to make a SMART request to your kids
  • How to make a request of your boss
  • How the giver/requester dynamic is not an exchange between individuals, but a network
  • The Sage Syndrome of leaders and how it weakens their effectiveness
  • What happens when you’re an over-giver—someone who is overly generous and never makes requests will have lower performance.
  • Men and women need to request (not to demand). This can be learned through practice.
  • People fear they will seem incompetent in the workplace if they ask for help, but it’s opposite if you make a thoughtful request.
  • Even strangers are more likely to say yes to a request than we think.
  • How to make it psychologically safe for people to ask a question or ask for what they want.
  • The tools that exponentially make a group more and more psychologically safe
  • Scheduling a time for people to ask for what they need
  • How to make it psychologically safe for our kids to express their needs and wants
  • How asking in the workplace creates a leadership moment where people can co-create solutions with you.
  • You can’t expect people to do something that you don’t do yourself, including asking for help.
  • People support what they create. This is true at home and the workplace. Asking for help gives others ownership of the situation. They’re invested in its outcome.
  • Give your kid a limited amount of choices. Practice by participating in their decision-making to help them figure out what they need and want.

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