Reminder: You Do Not Get If You Do Not Ask

Wanting to sit next to his wife aboard an airplane as they rarely travel alone, Edward Pizzarello of Pizza in Motion reasoned that “there’s no way I would ever ask someone to switch from an aisle seat to a window in this situation.”

Reminder: You Do Not Get If You Do Not Ask

The situation to which he referred was that both he and his wife Michelle were both assigned to seats by a window, meaning that they were not sitting together for the flight — something which was not his fault: “My wife and I were on a recent flight together. We were both supposed to be seated in first class on a United flight. When we woke up the morning of our flight, we were advised of a 6+ hour mechanical delay. We scrambled a bit but managed to get United to move us to a different flight out of a different airport and on a different airline. All in all, I felt pretty lucky to find two seats in first class on a flight out of DC on a Friday within a few hours of our original departure.”

Ed believes that if the situation involved their children, then asking is worth a shot — but for only his wife and himself, he would “stay hands off.”


As a person who generally prefers to keep to himself and not bother anyone, I wholly disagree with Ed. Although I prefer my window seat, if someone asked me in a polite and respectful manner the simple question as to whether I would change my seat with that person, I would likely comply with the request — as long as the exchange is fair to me…

…plus, asking a request of someone only takes a moment of your time and their time. The worst that could happen is that the person you ask refuses to comply with your request.

You always have at least some chance of getting what you want simply by asking — and I gave two examples in this article which I wrote on Tuesday, May 24, 2016.

Another example is that in coorganizing an event for frequent fliers several years ago, we asked the chief executive officer of an airline to speak at the event. The result was that he and several other high-level executives of the airline spent a total of almost five consecutive hours speaking to the audience and fielding sessions of questions and answers — leading to one component of what became an event whose memories will last a lifetime for those people who attended.

I have always said that it never hurts to ask for what you want, as usually the worst that can happen is that the person you ask will deny your request. It also usually never hurts to ask someone else who can grant you your request, as usually the worst that can happen is that the person you ask will deny your request. How many times you should “hang up and call again” is based on your feel of the nature of your request — there is no specific and definitive rule to follow — so you will know when you are experiencing the situation.

If someone wants something from me, they have a better chance of me complying with their request than if they never asked me in the first place. I can be pretty good at anticipating what someone else wants; but I am not a mind reader.

The way I see it is this: you almost always have a significantly better chance of getting what you want simply by asking politely and respectfully and pursuing the answer for which you are seeking than by not asking at all.

After all, you never know just how successful you can be potentially with having your requests fulfilled…

…and remember: nothing ventured, nothing gained: by not asking, your chances of getting what you want firmly remain at zero percent.

Photograph ©2015 by Brian Cohen.

5 thoughts on “Reminder: You Do Not Get If You Do Not Ask”

  1. Just onep says:

    Really? Ask, ask , ask….
    Such an entitlement attitude!
    Don’t forget, each time you ask something of another person, you are actually imposing on them.
    They may feel bad having to say no, or they may be nice and give in to your request, but in actual fact, make themselves “suffer” for your sake.
    The aphorism “It doesn’t hurt to ask” is definitely not true in all circumstances.

    1. Brian Cohen says:

      I do not believe that asking is an entitlement attitude, Just onep.

      I say that as a person who does not mind when someone asks me for something — as long as that person is civil, polite and respectful with the request.

      I do agree that the aphorism “It doesn’t hurt to ask” is definitely not true in all circumstances — but I believe that most people would have the appropriate judgement in those situations: “Would you please do me a favor and copy these documents for me” while someone is hanging for dear life with three fingers off of a cliff is certainly an example of one of those rare times…

  2. warren trout says:

    I always carry a $100 bill. If I get stuck in middle seat, someone on the aisle is always willing to change.

    Well worth it on long flights

    1. Brian Cohen says:

      That is a great idea if one is willing to part with $100.00, warren trout, as I cannot imagine very many people refusing that offer…

  3. Pizzaman says:

    Hey, Brian. Thanks for linking to my post. I appreciate your perspective here. I generally don’t like the possibility of inconveniencing someone if it’s not truly necessary.

    But, as you say, you don’t get if you don’t ask!

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