Free cups of tea in cafes, free tickets to the theatre, even free business upgrades on air travel.

I love getting free stuff.

There is definitely a knack to persuading people to give you free stuff that everyone else has to pay hard cash for. Scores of books have been written about persuasion and most feature lots of interesting principles and techniques.

The trouble is when you’re in a situation where you need to be persuasive it’s easy to forget all the techniques. Try applying the ‘Law of Contrast’ when an angry police officer is threatening to issue you a speeding ticket.

This is the situation I faced. Luckily, I had a brainwave: instead of trying to persuade him, why not just ask for what I want?

“Can you let me off? I’ll promise to not let you catch me again.”

Thankfully, my brass made the officer laugh and he let me go!

So I got cheeky and just started asking for free stuff and discounts:

“Can I have a free tea?”
“Would you give me your staff discount on this shirt?”
“Nice shoes. I’d like to pay this price, please.”

And of course, I heard ‘No’ quite a lot.

It was a direct response to a direct question. But I made sure I always smiled and it took a ton of pressure the moment. Often, it made the asking fun!

And of course, the good part was that some people did say Yes.

The first time I walked away from a coffee shop with a cup of tea on the house felt glorious! I couldn’t believe how simple it was, how liberating it felt. At that moment I reminded myself of the fundamental element of all persuasion:

‘Just ask!’

Most people would rather play it safe than take a chance. So do me a favour. Ask for stuff and get used to hearing ‘No’ for a change. Deals, dates and dollars are passing you by because you can’t muster the courage to ask.

Your life will improve remarkably when you do.

Marcus Oakey

Marcus is an author, consultant and entrepreneur. He divides his time between writing, mentoring global leaders in the science of charisma and a borderline obsession with the lost art of mind mastery.