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If You Don’t Ask, You Don’t Get, So Keep Asking


My Dad has uttered this phrase more times than I can count. “If you don’t ask, you don’t get.” He says it with a dramatic pause in the middle. It’s great.

It’s also true. If there’s something you really want, and you need approval or assistance from another person to get it, you’re going to have to ask for it. People aren’t going to guess your wishes; you have to make them known.

Six years ago, a reader offered to let me stay at one of his rental properties on the gulf, free of charge. I never forgot about that offer, and when we planned a trip to Florida this winter, I finally asked if we could make it happen. Guess where I am right now?

When you live passively, good things may come your way on occasion, but you’ll get more of what you want if you learn how to actively ask for it. David, the author of this piece, understands this and hammers the point home. This post was originally published at Filled With Money.




If you don’t ask, you don’t get so you have to keep asking even if it makes you feel uncomfortable. How regretful would it be that the reason you didn’t get something you wanted is because you didn’t say words? The worst that you’ll get is a no, which means you are back at where you started with anyway.

I had no idea of this sales technique until I saw it for myself. Yesterday, I was signing up for a gym membership and I called to ask what their rates were. As soon as I called, the person immediately took control of the narrative and continued to ask questions. Innocent things such as “what’s your name? What’s a good callback number?”

I was getting annoyed because all I wanted to know was what their rates were. He kept transferring me to their “salesperson” so that they could give more information. That was ridiculous, as if the person in the front desk doesn’t even know what the gym membership rates were?

However, what I learned is that if you don’t ask, you don’t get. He attempted to make a sale and get me to join without coming across as pushy. That was a pretty clever way to get someone’s information. I declined all of their requests, but that’s all that happened to them.

I said no and that was it. That’s what it’s like for you as well. When someone comes to you, keep asking questions. It’s an art form to not do that in an interrogation way. To ask the right way, you will have to learn how to do it. However, when you master it, the world opens up to you. People are more receptive to giving you things if you just ask for them.


What Does, “If You Don’t Ask, You Don’t Get” Mean?


“If you don’t ask, you don’t get” means that even if there’s a chance that the other party could be annoyed, it’s the only way to get what you want. If you never ask for things, why would people ever give them to you? People are not mind readers. The easy way to get things you want is to just simply ask for them.

When I was little, I absolutely and highly disliked talking to strangers, especially on the phone. My heart would thump and I would get nervous to even dial the phone. For good reason. However, I didn’t even know what the reason was until I was much older and finally understood.

I thought if I approached someone else, I would be at their mercy. That whatever I want, they would renegotiate right back, so I would end up giving up something else of greater value. While that is true in certain instances, it’s not true in other instances. Sometimes, I have the power and it’s my right to exert that power over the other person.

When I called the gym, I had the power because they need my business in order to stay alive. They need to submit to me, instead of the other way around. That’s why when I declined to give any more information to them, they accepted it. They can’t get mad because, well, they need me as a customer.

There are many gyms around the city, but there’s only one of me to get business from. That took a long time for me to learn but I finally learned it. That’s how I was comfortable declining and rejecting every one of their requests. Even though they applied the “if you don’t ask, you don’t get” principle against me, I handled it gracefully.


If You Don’t Ask, You Don’t Get. Things to Ask For


So now that you know if you don’t ask, you don’t get, can I ask for you to SMASH that social share button and post to your favorite social media? Writing quality content such as these takes up a lot of my weekend time to do for you guys. If you could share the knowledge and help spread the message around, I would really appreciate it.

Please consider sharing the article for me :).

So with that said, let’s get into the things that you should ask for. People are more receptive to giving things away than you think. As long as it’s not life or death things that you’re asking for such as money, people will be happy to help.


1) The First Number in a Negotiation

Ask for the first number.

When you apply to a job, the first interview will go something along the lines of “how much are you getting paid?” The one who says the first number loses. I used to think “which company in their right mind would give away the first number?” The more I interviewed with more recruiters, the more I realized companies give the first number away.

They need employees to keep their business afloat and grow as a company. While employees need money to survive, the companies need employees to keep growing. That’s why if they ask for the first number, decline to answer and ask for their number. If they get mad or decline to do so, walk away to the next opportunity.

If you don’t ask, you don’t get. You should always be asking for the first number because there’s a very high chance you will over or under shoot the salary range. My friends got rejected when they shot very high because the “company couldn’t meet their compensation expectations”.

Even though my friends would have taken less than the first number. That’s why you should always ask them to say the first number and not the other way around.


2) Any Discounts, Whether Corporate or Group

There are many discount opportunities out there. Simple things such as discounts for AAA memberships or corporate discount memberships exist out there. Gym memberships usually come with corporate discounts. Phone plans usually come with corporate discounts as well.

When I was an intern, I took advantage of many corporate discounts to the phone bill and saved money. I needed to spend money on my phone plan anyway so that was amazing. If you don’t ask, you don’t get. You’re not going to look silly for asking because corporate discounts are commonplace these days.

Any time where there’s a long term contract, there’s more than likely corporate discounts. My car insurance has a university alumni discount. That’s a way for my university to pay me back for the tens of thousands of dollars I spent on the degree. That was great, my investment finally paying me for a change!


3) A Meeting to Build Relationships

This is where relationships are built.

Human relationships matter to you more than you know. As long as you’re not building relationships because you want something from the other person, it’s great. Many people find jobs through personal and business connections. I was offered a job to work in consulting before, an industry I was clueless in.

The only reason they gave me the offer was because the sister of my best friend referred me. Although I didn’t end up taking the job, it was a lesson to myself. The interviews were ridiculously easy as a result of the referral. Although you are not 100% dependent on others to succeed in life, it doesn’t hurt.

If you don’t ask, you don’t get. Build relationships through meeting people from different walks of life. You never know if one day, they’ll lend that helping hand that changes your life forever. If they don’t lend that helping hand, then that doesn’t matter either. At the very least, you made a connection with someone else.


4) Small Random Things

Do you think you can ask for a “burger refill”?

Have you ever heard of the 100 day rejection therapy? The author, Jia Jiang, spent 100 days getting rejected by asking for numerous random things. Some requests got fulfilled, like getting a free donut, and other requests got denied, like interviewing President Obama. Does it matter? Nope.

He’s right back to where he was in the beginning anyway. That’s the number one lesson in if you don’t ask, you don’t get. Nothing bad is going to happen to you. People aren’t going to chase you up and down on the street and call the cops for you asking. That’s just your fear talking to you. Swat that fear away.

If he can get Jia Jiang’s “ridiculous”, random requests filled, why can’t yours? Every time that I have a chance of asking for something, I always take it. Many times I don’t succeed but it doesn’t matter. My ego isn’t bruised because I was expecting a no anyway. It’s when they say yes that I get pleasantly surprised and happy.



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Whether We Like it Or Not, We’re Asking for Things All the Time


Whenever there are people involved, it’s inevitable that we’re asking for something. It could be a simple and small thing such as asking what time it is. Or it could be a big thing like asking for a promotion. Whatever it is, we’re asking for things all the time from others and we have to. Why is that? Other people have things that we want.

We live in a world controlled by others who already established themselves in the world. Even if you pay with money, you’re still asking for the product and exchanging it with something in return. The principle of “if you don’t ask, you don’t get” applies in our everyday life, whether we like it or not.

So if it’s something we have to do every day, why not be great at it and master the art of asking?

It’s one of those small skills that add up to bigger rewards. A gym I wanted a day pass from wanted to charge me $15 to go in. I countered with $5. He countered with $10. Then I asked him to make an exception and if $5 was OK. He agreed. It’s small things like that where if you master the art of asking, it helps you.

Maybe it won’t make a significant and a huge impact to your life. However, it’s a beneficial thing that doesn’t cost you anything extra. Unlimited upside with zero downside sounds like a good deal to me. If you don’t ask, you don’t get. It’s a small and subtle difference that helps your life versus someone else.

It’s a way to differentiate yourself from another who may have the exact same background as you. The best part is that it doesn’t cost a dime to learn.


If You Don’t Ask, You Don’t Get, So Keep Asking


Now, obviously, don’t keep and continuously ask them to the point of harassment. Once is a free pass for most small things and maybe for large things as well. Repeated asks are not good, even for small things. However, most people don’t even ask once. Don’t be like most people and be different.

If you don’t ask, you don’t get, so keep asking for things. Even if there’s a chance that they could get mad. You’ll be surprised at how many people don’t get mad if you ask them a small question. It’s a way to get the conversation started. As long as you don’t do it in a bad way, there’s little chance that they will get mad.

When I was at Chipotle, I frequently visit the restaurant. There’s one employee that I’m very close with. I asked if I could have a sample of the lemonades they have. He ended up giving me an entire cup to taste. That was a small thing that added a benefit to my life and all because I asked for it.

Amazing things can happen when people like you. Even if they don’t like you, people are usually receptive to giving you things. The burden is on you to actually figure out what good things that you can ask for. Why? You’re the one who wants something. But that’s great! If you can figure out the right things to ask for, you will get.

What’s wrong with that? It didn’t cost you anything in the first place anyway. If you don’t ask, you don’t get. Make it a mission for you to ask for more things. Every day is a new chance to get something that you want. It’s a very easy way to get ahead.



What’s something you got just because you asked? What have you been afraid to ask for?


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5 thoughts on “If You Don’t Ask, You Don’t Get, So Keep Asking”

  1. Pingback: Greatest Hits: Volume 29 - Banker on FIRE
  2. Subscribe to get more great content like this, an awesome spreadsheet, and more!
  3. I think with people, especially romantic interest, the answer here is don’t go this far. If you read books or have experience with people–in America we always admire persistence–however creepy, sociopath persistence is harassment and just off. It’s the trait of psycopaths and sociopaths. Certainly you don’t go that far but this is always something to bring up–especially with males who are taught to just keep asking a girl out even if she clearly says no. That’s not admirable.

    • No one’s recommending creepy, sociopath[ic] persistence. Quite the opposite, in fact. From the author:

      “Now, obviously, don’t keep and continuously ask them to the point of harassment. Once is a free pass for most small things and maybe for large things as well. Repeated asks are not good, even for small things. However, most people don’t even ask once.”

  4. Thank you so much for this column.
    I concur with your overall recommendations but an emphasis on being more judicious about this way of interacting with others would be wise. Yes, you might save a little by asking for a discount all the time but the other party will not look forward to seeing you next time. Have some dignity and self respect.
    Asking for what you want is a useful tool but please don’t overdo it.


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