Johnnie Moore

Pass the salt

The subtle power of how we ask for things....
Johnnie Moore

Johnnie Moore

I’m Johnnie Moore, and I help people work better together

Pass the salt and how we ask for things

Transcript of this video:

I was out shopping for luggage yesterday, looking at what was available and trying to figure out what would be big enough for what I wanted to carry and small enough to fit on the plane.

And after a bit of slightly obsessive measuring, I went home to think about it and then I thought, oh I want to go back and have another look.

I caught myself as I was walking back to the shop thinking, oh, if I come back in again they might think I’m wasting their time in some way or doing that thing, what do they call it? Where you inspect in the shop and then buy on the internet. 

I managed to start conjuring up this idea that there’d be some kind of emotional response to me merely coming back into their shop a second time which of course is mad when you catch it.

It reminded me of a conversation I was having with my friend Rebecca, where we were talking about a similar phenomenon, not with shopping, but with having a challenging what might prove to be a challenging conversation where we’re gonna make a request say of someone but begin to anticipate they might react badly.

The result of that is often that we bring a weird kind of emotional energy to our request. So instead of just asking for something we might be placatory – “oh, do you think it might be possible?” Or We might be angry or hostile – “Why don’t you…”

Rebecca’s advice is to practice asking for things in the same way you’d ask someone to pass the salt at the dinner table as a completely reasonable mundane request requiring no particular energy on your part at all, unless you come from a pretty dysfunctional family, I suppose.

So you just ask for things the way that you’d ask someone to pass the salt. Just thinking about that conversation made me laugh and realize I could bring the same kind of energy without even having to ask for salt to going back into the shop and having another look at the luggage.

Whenever I have these moments, I wonder I wonder how much of life is being created moment by moment by these little internal stories we’re telling ourselves about the way the world works without even noticing.

And it might be having more impact on our lives than some of the grander strategic discussions we sometimes want to have.

Photo by Peter Werkman on Unsplash

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