Have I had a week, let me tell you. I joined the lovely Ms. Meconis at MoCCA last week. We managed to make a time of it and stuff as much as we possibly could into five days in NYC. There was silly theatre, engaging art and enlivening cab rides in abundance!
In between chatting with folks at the fest, I wrote a few new posts. For Reals. I’m a bit thrashed from the plane ride home yesterday, so they’ll likely not be up for a few more days, but I wanted to wave my arms and say hello.
Also, I wanted to remind you: just ask.
Our flight out of Newark was delayed for some fancy aeronautical reason and as a result our plane landed in Seattle around the time we were supposed to be boarding our 11:00 p.m. plane to Portland. Summoning the strength of the gods, we ran. And we made it. The nice mother and son duo trapped about 10 rows behind us on the Newark plane did not.
As they came skidding into the terminal to catch their hop to Wenatchee, they could see their plane waiting at the gate. But no dice: the airline folks told them that the flight was closed and they couldn’t get on the plane. No, it did not matter that they could see the plane sitting there; for their purposes, it was gone and there were no alternative flights available until the morning.
I watched a bit dumbfounded as the airline folks failed to offer additional information, assistance or compassion. When I grumbled about it Dylan reminded me that most airlines train their employees not to offer additional goods or services unless the customer asks for them. It’s a lowest common denominator type solution for keeping costs down that I imagine feels even more necessary these days. But often times if the customer asks, the customer service representative can fulfill the request.
So ask. Ask for what you want when dealing with folks in all types of negotiation situations. A lot of times we think it’s obvious what we want (a hotel room and an apology), but unless we clearly articulate what it is we’re after, there is no guarantee we’ll get what we want.
Asking for what you want is also a great way to take control of a situation when you feel helpless. Asking for something specific puts you in a position of guiding the conversation. Instead of a big open world of endless possibilities that may or may not help you, asking for what you want focuses the negotiation on options and alternatives that get you what you need.
Me? I’d like 8 hours of sleep, pretty please.