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Need Someone to Do You a Favor, Simple Just Apologize First

I'm Sorry
Elke Vogelsang/Getty Images

Hey, are you moving soon and you’re trying to figure out how to ask a friend for a little help? Maybe you need to borrow your neighbor’s leaf blower or need them to run you to the store because your car is on the fritz?

Bribing a person with cash is not the way to get someone to do you a favor, the secret is apologizing for something first. And get this, it doesn’t matter what you apologize for, any apology works.

Yep, that’s right. The key to getting someone to do you a favor is to apologize for something before you ask.

Any apology should work according to a new study out of Harvard Business School and the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania.

You could apologize for something as simple as the weather, the traffic congestion on 41st Street, or the horrible ending to the series finale of “Breaking Bad.” Any apology works. Just apologize for something.

The research showed that when test subjects asked a stranger to borrow a cell phone to make a call, only 9% said yes. But when test subjects said, “I’m so sorry about the rain today,” then asked to use the phone, 47% of the people said yes.

Kinda kooky huh?

Why does this work? The researchers found that by apologizing, even for something trivial, it gives a huge psychological clue that you’re a trustworthy person and worth doing a favor for.

Maybe you can test that theory out the next time you’re a little short on cash, and need to ask a friend for a favor to loan you a few extra bucks.

Let me know how that turns out for ya, and then maybe I’ll give it a try too.

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