Street Smarts: Never Back Someone into a Corner Always leave someone a gracious out. People do not react well to force. The idea that you will get a desired response by backing someone into a corner is usually wrong-headed. In fact, it is our view that whenever you ask someone for something, you should give her a graceful exit. As an example, if you are asking someone for a business introduction, you might preface your request: “If this is uncomfortable for you, no problem, but I was hoping you could introduce me to ________” That short phrase – “If this is uncomfortable, no problem” – serves several purposes: 1.If the person you asked is, in fact, uncomfortable making the introduction, you have given her an easy out. She can answer “unfortunately, that would be awkward right now,” without any sense of guilt. As a result, you have preserved a relationship. She will not feel put upon. 2.By building an exit into your request, you are lowering the stress level on the other person. Instead of feeling pressured or protective, she will be free to mull your request over. Under this circumstance, she may come down on the side of helping you – where if pushed, she might not have. 3.When you qualify your request with an out, you protect yourself against a perception that you are asking to too much (or too soon). It is very important to expend your social capital judiciously. 4.Sometimes people assume that a request is “no biggie” for the other person to do. But, you don’t know that. Prefacing your request negates a sense that you are presumptuous. When you press too hard, people may say they will help you, but their efforts may be half-hearted at best. Sometimes this kind of “help” is worse than nothing at all. The only help that is worth getting is when the other person wants to help you. Assignment: 1. Conduct a web search regarding psychological and/or physical effects of backing people into a corner. Share your findings (citing your source) in less than 400 words. Have you ever been backed into a corner? Did your experience concur with your web search findings? Explain. (
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