How to Predict An Outcome
This article focuses on a simple technique that will help you in situations where you don’t know how someone will respond, such as asking a friend for a loan, or in cases where you don’t understand how an event may play out, such as asking for a pay increase—asking the question, “What if?” may help you make better decisions and foresee an outcome. Instead of merely reacting to someone or an event, you can be proactive.
Let’s look at a couple of scenarios.
You’re just going to walk up to your boss and ask for a raise.
You: Can we talk for a moment?
Your boss: What’s on your mind?
You: Well, I have been here for over a year, and I think I deserve a raise.
Your boss: Why do you think you deserve a raise?
You: Um, I think I am doing a good job.
Your boss: Give me an example.
You: Well, I am trying harder, and I am doing better.
Your Boss: I’m sorry; I don’t see much of a difference.
You: I think I have improved a lot since I started.
Your Boss: Give me an example.
You have a blank expression on your face for 10 seconds.
Your Boss: We can revisit this during the next review period, but I need to see something from you that merits a raise.
You’re going to ask your boss for a raise and use the “What if” method.
What if my boss asks, “Why do you deserve a raise?”
I’ll say I have increased my workload by 28% since I started and provide examples. Plus, I have never missed a day of work. I worked extra hard on the financial reports we talked about doing every month.
What if my boss asks how much I want?
I’ll say that 5% would be excellent, but I’m willing to negotiate, so it’s a win-win outcome.
What if my boss tells me there is no room in the budget?
I know the budget must be tight, but at the same time, I have financial responsibilities that are becoming tougher to handle. Isn’t there something you can do? It would help me to focus more on my work than on my finances.
What if my boss tells me to wait for the next pay review then we will look at it?
I can say, “Okay. I will wait, but can we talk about how much of a raise I can expect? I don’t want to plan for a raise and not get one.”
What if my boss tells me that I’m underperforming and that doesn’t merit a raise?
I will prepare all the tasks I have been doing and ask my boss to help me by identifying the areas where I’m underperforming and how he thinks I can improve.
What if my boss tells me, “I can’t authorize that because of upper management”?
I’ll say, “What if I take on more duties? Will that justify a raise”?
I’m sure you can see considerable improvement, and, in scenario two, you can see how my chance of getting a raise has improved because I have prepared myself and thought about what my boss might say. I have created a series of, “What if Questions,” regarding what might happen, and, for each one, I have come up with a response.
Here are a few other examples of situations where you can use this technique:
- You’re about to negotiate a price for a car.
- You need to ask for a loan.
- You need to break off a relationship.
- You have a big meeting coming up to get approval for a project.
- You need to ask for an extended vacation.
- You need to ask one of your employees to take on extra work.
- You need to bring up a complaint to one of your employees.
- You need to tell your boss you have too much responsibility.
When you spend time asking “What if” before any meeting or essential conversation, it will give you an advantage and get you in the habit of thinking like this, you don’t need to put in a lot of time; a few minutes is more than enough for most issues.
For important life-changing matters, you can extend the “What-if” process over a few days, spending half-hour periods dedicated to brainstorming. When ideas come to you, and they will, you can add them to your list.
Naturally, issues might arise that you didn’t think about, but being prepared this way gives you a huge advantage over not being prepared at all.
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