Don’t be afraid to ask a question?
If you don’t ask, then you already know the answer. It is no.
- 1 Sometimes you just have to ask a question
- 2 In this travel writing business – asking questions is vital
- 3 Say no to bullying – cyber and real life
- 4 How I started to ask questions
- 5 Ask me anything. I will probably not say no.
If a baby cries, they are asking for something, and the answer would rarely be no. If they are hungry, they ask for food in their inimitable way, and the answer will mostly be yes. If they cry, then they are asking for attention. Sometimes, much to their displeasure, the answer will be no. They probably already knew that but considered it was worth a shot. At other times, their tired parents may just give in. The baby has asked the question and this time has got the attention. The baby asked the question and got a yes.
After this baby stage, people are generally taught not to ask for things. Many of us were brought up to be grateful for what we had. In itself, there is nothing wrong with that. Humility and lack of greed are good things.
Sometimes you just have to ask a question
However .. sometimes there comes a time when you need to ask for things, to stand up and take a chance. You already know, that if you don’t ask then the answer is already, no, so if you do ask and the answer is still no, well at least you tried.
We all know that asking for something does force us out of our comfort zone, there is no doubt about it. Many of us don’t like the idea of rejection. Asking a question, could mean that someone may validate your fears by actually saying no, and this is too much.
In this travel writing business – asking questions is vital
There is no denying that this is a business and a hard one. It is also highly competitive, and one where we need to ask a lot of questions. We ask our peers, and we ask questions of businesses that we believe will add to the quality of what we offer to our readers.
What is much harder when starting out is asking for something in the first place. It may be as simple as asking a question on a forum that you know full well that most other people know the answer to. Do you ask and feel insecure because others may think you are not up to scratch? Or do you ask away, get a solution and move ahead? If you don’t ask, you won’t get the answer, or waste so much time finding it yourself, when a quick question would have given you a positive result.
Say no to bullying – cyber and real life
On a slight tangent, but still applicable. Many travel writers are in various groups developed to support one another in growth and development. These forums are to answer questions, no matter how trivial, and 99% of the time, these are amazing to be a part of.
The other 1% is when you see people bullying others. This is when people feel intimidated to ask a question for fear of being ridiculed, which is a form of bullying. I don’t get this. I dealt with this at school, and now I see grown-ups doing it. As with what we told our students, either stand up for yourself, report the bully, or in my Dad’s own immortal words, ‘unknow the bully’.
Bullying in real life or in the cyber world is never ok.
When you are trying to grow your business, you need to have cheap cialis super active some street cred to continue to grow and become a valuable writer to your readers.They need to know that you offer something that they need. This means that you need to ask for things.
This is where you need to be very clear with what you are asking for. Why you are asking for it, what are your expectations, what can you deliver to them and your audience, and in communicating very clearly about how you will work together. It is all about ROI for the companies and your readers, and to your business.
How I started to ask questions
When I started, I was brazen and went straight to the top and asked if could I write for some of the big guns. Paul Johnson of A Luxury Travel Blog allowed me to write for him, and I will remain grateful to him always. If I hadn’t have asked, then of course the answer would have been no. I asked Dave and Deb and ThePlanetd and Dave of Dave’s Travel Corner, and they also said yes. Not only that, but they also provided advice for newcomers to this field of travel writing, by providing guest posts on my baby site. Again, if I hadn’t have asked, then the answer would have been no. I feel very indebted to them for their generosity. I did approach some others, and their answer was no. That is part of the risk that you take in asking a question. Sometimes a yes, and sometimes a no.
When we first started pitching to companies, it was super stressful.
Many of us suffer from what is called the ‘fraud or imposter syndrome’ where we don’t think that we are good enough.
I attached a link to an article that says that this syndrome is more common in high achieving women. Go figure.
When we got our first job in Switzerland, we did feel like frauds or imposters. When you think about this is ridiculous. We both have University degrees and Masters degrees and have worked for a long time, so we have a very substantial curriculum vitae. However, we did a very good job and felt validated when we got asked back, and when another tourism board contacted us to work with them, based on this gig. We felt even more validated when our readers asked us more about it and for further information on traveling there.
We are now a lot more confident in our own abilities. We know that we offer is a valuable and valued service. We know that we are professional and we always deliver quality.
Asking however, is still difficult. It will never change. However, asking can lead to so many yes answers, and this for us as travel writers, means that we can bring rich content to our readers.
Ask me anything. I will probably not say no.
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I was just about to message you a question on a similar topic and saw this post. I agree.. getting over the fear of asking is half the battle. It’s either yes or no and nothing to lose. 😀
It is always a no if you don’t ask. Be brave.
I’d like to find out more? I’d love to find out more details.
Sure, ask away.
Thank you so much Paula for opening this discussion. I enjoyed the comments as much as your great post. For the most part everyone I’ve met in this community has been so generous and giving when it comes to sharing information. And I must say once i connected to the boomer segment of travel writers, felt so much more at home! I try to always remember ‘what’s the worst they can say-no right’. It makes for a much easier starting point.
Thanks Alison, I agree and always hope that asking a question leads to a respectful answer. Not always the case, but that is the minority.
Let me add my voice to those agreeing whole-heartedly. I also think it could be a generational thing; perhaps we slightly greyer (in my case a LOT greyer, at least in hair terms) folk are a little more used to approaching and asking others. I learned in my youth while travelling that personal communication and asking for help were essential while in a foreign country, and I just carried on doing it when I got home. Nowadays there is less real interaction between people, and more looking things up on a phone instead of asking for information. Which is a shame, but I do think everyone is realising this slowly but surely…
Agreed, and I would rather ask a real person than look it up on a phone that’s for sure. I watch people walk around staring at the phone and think, are you actually seeing anything? Are you talking to real people? We have met so many people who go out of their way to assist us, if we are lost or looking for something. And that is what I love about traveling.
Love this – I wonder how many of us started out by asking Paul, as I did too!! I wish at work people would ask questions more often – don’t ask then you don’t learn and you inevitably learn the hard way! A good reminder!
Paul – see lots of us like you and appreciate you 🙂 Agreed, asking questions is not a sign of weakness but more an ability to show that you want to learn.
Whether the answer is yes or no, you’ll never know if you don’t ask 🙂
Totally agree 🙂
I too find it difficult to ask and have always admired people who don’t. I’m sure people get so much more out of travelling, more experiences and more interesting conversations, if they ask more questions. I’m getting better though and over the last few years I have made myself step out of my comfort zone so that I can learn more about a culture or a person and so forth. It still isn’t easy but so worthwhile.
I can talk to anyone in a cafe or coffee shop or anywhere and generally pick up strays for Gordon to meet. But … in business, I am much shyer but getting better.
You know what – this is a very important topic, and if I am to be truthful, one that I felt a little alone about before reading your post. As Paul over at A Luxury Travel Blog, I am a relative newcomer to having a travel blog, and this has certainly encouraged the syndrome that you mentioned. So a big “Good on you” for discussing this issue so honestly and intelligently.
Gracias guapa 🙂
Wow, Jackie that is such a lovely comment. I really appreciate that this article meant something to you 🙂
Hi Paula… I’m honoured to be included in your article, thank you… and delighted of course that you reached out to me (can you believe that was almost 2 years ago now?!). You are right… people should never be too afraid to ask… whether it be looking for travel tips, getting advice on how to take better photographs, seeking directions to somewhere (apparently us men are famous or not doing that, but it’s never been an issue for me!) or whatever… the more questions you ask, the more you stand to learn. 🙂
Paul – you and me, we are (virtual) friends forever. I am loyal to those who have helped me. I am getting better at asking questions in business. In real life, I am able to talk to whoever and ask anything. Bipolar? 🙂
Asking definitely takes most people out of their comfort zones. I live in a culture (Korea) where, at least students, don’t ask questions. They have been taught from a very young age to simply be seen and not heard. It can be frustrating when you have a class of university students who simply sit and stare. Of course, usually time changes that, but it also takes a lot of coaxing! 🙂
I do agree and when I was teaching, our school was very multicultural. Allowing all voices to be heard was difficult and encouraging those students not used to expressing themselves so openly, did take coaxing as you have noted.
Great post! This is a lesson we are trying to learn, Veronica is pretty good about it, guess I still act like a guy asking for directions… but I’m getting better.
I think it is not an easy thing, but a necessary thing at times. We are both learning, and yes maybe I am a little better than Gordy. I can handle rejection better :))
But the one question it is really difficult to ask and even more difficult to get an answer to has to be, “Can you give me the name and e-mail of the assigning editor?”
LOL, if you get this I will ask you the question, will you share with me. You may say no, but I really hope you say yes :)) Great response Carole.
I usually do not have a problem asking questions. There is so much about the world and life I want to discover. But I have also been labelled assertive, sometimes even aggressive. Is there a limit to this “asking syndrome?”
The asking syndrome? I love it and that is worthy of a dissertation I think.
“Asking however, is still difficult. It will never change. However, asking can lead to so many yes answers ….” So true !!!
You know what, we have a Swahili saying that roughly translated says ‘asking questions is not a sign of stupidity’.
That is an amazing answer. Asking questions is definitely how we all learn. That is a saying I will share because it is on point.
I admit to often being too intimidated to ask, but am getting better. It is somehow encouraging and reassuring to hear I am not alone in this. Great advice.
Thanks Donna, as I said in a previous response, I wonder if it is because we were bought up not to ask for things. I am getting braver though and with excellent results.
Yes, be bold and just ask! You never get to YES if you don’t ask the question in the first place!
Thanks Susan, this is my my mantra. It isn’t always easy but it is the only way to find out. 🙂
Paula — what an incredible inspiration to me, as a fairly new travel blogger. I most often feel like I’m very late to this party. I get very discouraged when I hear bloggers constantly talking about their stats because it seems virtually impossible for me to get there. And yet, I keep traveling and writing purely for the love of it, with no plans to stop! Thanks so much for this post!
Patti, I do this like you, because I totally love it. Yes, I freak out when I hear some others stats, but you know what, hard work and passion is an unbeatable combination. You will do so well and I will be following your success.
So nice to be part of a wonderful writer community like this!
I agree Irene. We all learn so much from one another, particularly in a supportive environment.
This discussion is so valuable! Thank you for posting it! We probably shouldn’t be surprised when we encounter unhelpful situations or group dynamics that are less than positive because it’s a common aspect of human nature, but I have to admit that I usually am when it happens. I do believe and have observed that you get what you give though. Negativity begets more negativity handed straight back. Fortunately, the vast majority are truly helpful and inclusive.
Thank you Betsy. I agree. It is easier to help people out when asking a question. Asking a question is hard at the nest of times, without feeling intimidated.
Great advice and quite inspiring, too! Even after 2-and-a-half years of travel I often feel intimidated by all the fabulous travel bloggers “out there” who seem to be brimming with confidence and would never admit to getting lost or travel weary even for a day! I don’t know when or if we’ll be ready (if ever) to make the leap in travel blogging that you have but this post has me thinking (and, like you said, you never get a YES if you don’t ask!)
Anita, our travels are spent getting lost and spent asking people to help us. Yes, I also feel like maybe I shouldn’t ask when there are so many people who tell us that they are wonderful. Then I wondered – do they talk the talk and not walk the walk.
Good advice! A ‘NO’ is always the worst case scenario – it certainly leaves room for a whole range of best case scenarios…
I agree. You can only get better from a no 🙂
Whether you have a product or a service (which is what travel bloggers offer) you have to get it (or yourself) out into the market – which involves selling –
Daniel Pink wrote a great book – “To Sell is Human” which I felt took a lot of the fear out of approaching people (potential customers) with either your product (or you) by talking of buoyancy strategies when confronted by negative responses – which, lets face it is the biggest fear to asking in the first place – But more revelatory is to ask yourself – Can I do this? which by inserting a hint of interrogation into the quest actually reaps better results than bolstering statements such as I Can, as it activates the brain into positive solutions mode! 🙂
Agreed Linda. It does take a positive approach to get into this mind set. It is not easy but it is a necessity.
Great issues for all of us travelers to remember. I’ve recently learned to ask if I may take someone’s picture, which was a big hurtle. They may say no but it’s been surprisingly rare. I also love appreciating if someone asks me a question. It’s an entrance to a new world.
So very true. It is an entrance to a new world where you meet new and different people ..and sometimes responses.
Great topic, especially for newer travel bloggers, but really for anyone. Imposter syndrome is something talked about a lot in universities and academic settings (my current real world setting) and it is amazing how many very well-known professors feel this way, especially women. The bullying and bragging in the blogging world is very childish and annoying but it seems to happen in every group. I’ve found it easier to just have a few people I trust to talk to and ask questions rather than posting in group settings. But the advice that if you don’t ask for things, you won’t receive them is good advice for anything in life:)
Jessica, I really appreciate your very well considered comment. Thank you.
Traveling takes you out of your comfort zone and you do have to ask questions, ask for directions, ask for help, and rely on the kindness of strangers in all kinds of ways. And usually it turns out well. So it’s a good exercise in having faith in people! keep asking!
Totally agree. I love using my multilingual hands to ask questions when I inevitably get lost. People are so kind.
Paula, Great advice! I have to say I’m guilty of not asking…shy, imposter syndrome? I don’t know. I should put your post on my fridge and keep pushing myself!
It is never easy Corinne, and I often wonder if it is how we were raised.
Yes great post, sometimes it’s easy to forget to do the obvious and ask isn’t it? #wkendtravelinspiration
It took me a long time to realise this actually. 🙂
You’re right 🙂
This is a fantastic post! Been there and done that when it comes to being afraid to ask the question. Great inspiration to get out there and ask away!
Thanks Ellen, I think it is important to ask, but there is no denying that it is stressful
Interesting topic. I too often feel intimidated to ask a question, especially one which I think I should already know. Recently I got up my nerve to ask a “how much to charge” type of question and the group moderator PM’ed me to say this has already been asked by others so my question had been taken down. Sometimes it’s just difficult.
That is not what the forums are about. It doesn’t matter if it had been asked before, it should have answered.