To ask or not to ask?

To ask or not to ask? that is the question. I am not sure if it is a ‘man thing’ – but I have always shied away from asking. This becomes so evident when I am travelling as the occasions where asking could be helpful seem to multiply. Ironically as a coach, and PR consultant, I am an expert at asking the right questions. Not only am I good at it, I also find the experience enjoyable. What makes me so hesitant to ask questions when I travel? I don’t know the answer to that, but I can safely say when confronted with the ‘to ask or not to ask?’ moment, it pays to ask.
The washroom code. Have you had that bladder bursting emergency with no public washroom in sight? It happened to me in Chicago and adding to the “pressure” was a sign that said washroom right in front of me. But it was in an office complex and it had a code protected door. Hopping from one foot to the next only helps that much. My better half pushed me to walk into one of the offices and ask the person at the reception for the code. After some initial hesitation, the situation seemed dire, so I hopped into the office. “Hi, I need to use the washroom to take a leak, could you possibly share the code with me?” The man behind the counter looked up in stunned silence. This was clearly not a usual request. He seemed to think of ways to say no and then possibly seeing the desperation on my face, he gave me the code. It was that simple. Ask and often you will find a way to relieve the pressure.
The ‘L train’ and red, purple and brown line. After attending a musical we stepped out of the theatre and could not get a taxi. The reasons why are not important, the willingness to walk into a shop and ask for help is what made the train ride happen. The store owner turned out to be a fellow country man. He was so helpful that he took out his phone searched for the right train and told us how to get to the station. By the time we walked the two blocks, we had missed the red line that he had recommended and what appeared to be our option was the brown and purple line. This felt a bit daunting to me, as changing two trains was not sounding fun. Once again asking a lady at the station solved the problem, it was two lines on the same track so no change over needed. A few minutes later and for quite a few dollars less than the cab ride, we were back near our hotel.
The walk through Merchandise Mart. After getting off the train there were two exits from the station. Which one would get us out closer to our hotel? Especially since it had started raining, this became an important question to answer. Once again the wise wife, with the help of a question to a lady sitting on a bench at the station, got us the answer. It turned out to be neither of the exits. Instead the station connected to a building called merchandise mart, which connected to our hotel. We could walk right through avoiding the rain. There was a third way, which only became visible when we asked the question.
The extra cups of coffee. Our hotel room had a machine with 4 coffee pods. We were out of pods and after our train adventure, I really felt like having a nice strong cup of coffee. Walking into the hotel, having got the hang of asking, it felt easier to walk up to the check in counter and ask them how I could get a few more pods. The lady said “give me a minute, I think I have a few under the counter here…”. It was a simple as that. Ask and you shall receive.
I don’t know why I find it difficult to ask, but I am learning that it is the way forward. I must spend some time delving into the reasons why I am hesitant to ask while travelling, but till I figure out the why, that should not stop me from expanding my asking occasions. In coaching, in communication and in life, powerful questions are where the power comes from. Just ask.

The views and opinions published here belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the publisher.

Nikhil Dey
Nikhil Dey is Executive Director, Adfactors PR.

A trusted coaching and communications professional, Nikhil Dey is a certified life and leadership coach (International Coach Federation - ICF). Nurturing talent and helping clients achieve their goals is what makes him happy. He loves learning from students of communication, teaching courses and guest lecturing at various educational institutions. When he is not working you will find him on the tennis court or out for long walks with his family and four legged friends.

Previously he has held senior leadership positions at Weber Shandwick and Genesis BCW.

He can be reached on twitter @deydreaming

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