I wasn’t thrilled about being the last patient on the surgeon’s schedule. And to make matters even worse, I was scheduled for hip replacement surgery at 3 pm on a Friday… before Thanksgiving.
It would be an understatement to say I was a bit nervous. Was I getting a surgeon who had a few drinks the night prior and was exhausted from a poor night of sleep? Was I the 7th or 8th patient that he had already worked on today? Was he already focused on a Friday night party that he was invited to? And then there was the bad statistics of how many patients caught a staff infection and had to be opened up again to remove an infected hip joint.
During the pre-op meeting I joked with the nurses about my many concerns. They said I shouldn’t worry; I was getting the very best surgeon possible. I asked them if he had a busy day and they said that it was in fact relatively light. The resident doctor came into the room and I asked him if my surgeon had ever operated both hips in the same surgery. He confirmed that he had and that the recovery time was not much different. The next doctor to check in was my anesthesiologist. He confirmed that my spinal block would probably be sufficient for a double surgery and it wouldn’t be a problem to extend it a bit longer. The wheels in my head started turning!
I was in the process of formulating my big ask: Would my surgeon entertain the idea of performing both the left and right hip surgeries during the same operation? The thought of returning in Febru- ary for another round of surgery was depressing and if I could avoid this, it would be the best Christ- mas present ever. But surely, my doctor wouldn’t go for it. What a crazy idea, why even ask?
The curtain parted and in walked my surgeon. He seemed to be in a very good mood and well rest- ed. I was super nervous: should I pose my question or not? Would he be insulted, laugh at me, think I was an idiot? Maybe so, but what did I really have to lose? More importantly, what did I have to gain if there was even a minute possibility that he would say yes?
I gathered all my strength and incorporating a bit of humor stated: “So, Dr. M., I’ve heard you’ve had a fairly light day today. Considering that I’m your last patient, is there anything that stands in the way of having you replace both hips today?” He looked at me and a grin appeared on his face. He said: “Let me go check with the surgical team to see what their plans are for the afternoon.” Five minutes later he returned and gave me a thumbs up: “We’re good to go!” I couldn’t believe my ears. He then came to the left side of the bed, moved back the sheets, pulled out his green Sharpie and wrote on my leg in large, bold letters: “YES”. (Note: my overall health is excellent, I’m not over- weight and on no medication).
I closed my eyes and thought: “Thank You Lord!”
My spouse looked at me with a stare that asked: “What just happened!”
I’ve always been hesitant to ask others for something that I really wanted or needed: a raise, promo- tion, referral, refund, or first date as a teenager. I just never wanted to impose. But now I had just proven to myself that this attitude is a total waste. Good things just might happen, when you ask.
So why don’t we ask when we want something or need help. It might be because of
or a combination of the three.
While doing research on the topic of Asking, I came across a Ted Talk by Jia Jiang, a person who has learned and grown through personal rejections. He set up an experiment to ask for one thing (always something crazy) every day for 100 days. Most of his asks were turned down, but some weren’t. Here’s a link to one of those asks which has received 5.7 million Youtube views and shows Jia asking for a special donut order at a Krispy Kreme store. Two positives will come from this new strategy:
• Rejection: but with the rejection comes learning opportunities.
• Success: an ask will be answered affirmatively.
Here are a few tips that might increase your return on asks:
• Do your research: gather information about the subject matter. Talk to people who know something about what you want to ask for. In my case, I talked to the nurses, resident doc- tor and anesthesiologist.
• Use some humor: If you can lighten up and even make fun of yourself while making your ask chances are this will make the person you are dealing with feel more ok and they might just take a risk and agree to your ask. This was Jia Jiang’s strategy in his asking experiment.
• Be assertive but polite: Let the person know that this ask is really important to you and you really need their help. This is especially the case in the workplace when you are asking for a raise, promotion or new job opportunity.
• Be flexible: If you are flexible the person you are asking something of might not be able to do exactly what you are hoping for, but they might be able to offer you a different option.
• Be prepared for a no: Chances are that you’ll get a no when asking for something. Don’t take it personal. What can you learn from the rejection? How might you have altered the ask?
• Ask “why not”?: If you get turned down always try to find out why your request was turned down. Be polite but try to understand what is hindering the person from agreeing to your ask. This knowledge and experience will help you in the future.
So the next time you really want something, don’t let fear or worry get the best of you… just go for it!