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  • Writer's pictureRavi Rajani

The "Magic Question": One Influential Way To Receive More Of What You Desire

Updated: Aug 24, 2023

"Don't ask, don't get" ~ Mahatma Ghandi

Why are human beings so afraid to ask for what they want?

Asking for the sale.

Asking for a pay rise.

Asking for a second date...

You get my drift!

We secretly feel hurt when people don't read our mind. Or understand our desires and automatically gift them to us. Real talk, waiting in the wings for our wants to be met is a one way ticket to resentment.

As our friend Ghandi once said:

"Don't ask, don't get."

4 simple words, but damn the dude was right!

Sometimes, we just need to ask.

But you already knew that.

So, the million dollar question is: What's preventing you from asking for what you want from those that can give it to you (in the next 24 hours)?

If I travel back in time to the moments where I've been afraid to ask for what I desire...

The underlying root cause points to one thing:

A fear of rejection.


In order to slap those four words out of your vocabulary harder than Will Smith at the Oscars (yes, I went there)...

You need to craft your ask with intention and deliver it with confidence using a proven framework.

As you begin to hear "YES" more often, you'll gather enough positive evidence to crush the story you once told yourself about getting what you deserve.

The binary question trap

Before we get into it, here's where many get it wrong.

Let's run a scenario.

Imagine a sales rep named Jamie who's looking to book a discovery call with the Julie.

"Can I get 20 mins on your calendar next week?" asks Jamie on the phone.

Harmless, right?

The good news - Jamie's plucked up the courage to ask.

The bad news - Jamie's question has transported Julie to the following thought process...

"Can I give Jamie 20 mins on my calendar next week?"

Meaning, Julie now lives in a binary world where there are only two options.

Option 1 - Yes

Option 2 - No

Fortunately for Jamie, there's a better way.

Enter the "magic question".

The "magic question"

Dr. Zoe Chance is obsessed with all things influence and teaches her research driven approach at Yale University.

Her "magic question" is simple, subtle and stunningly effective.

When asking for something, she believes in framing your question in the following way:

“What would it take (insert ask)?

In Jamie's example, this would look like the following:

"What would it take to get 20 minutes on your calendar next week?"

According to Zoe, it’s a magic question for the following reasons:

  1. It shifts the other party from a judgement or decision making mindset to one of problem solving.

  2. It implicitly has the other party committing to the outcome by giving you a roadmap of exactly what needs to happen to make it a reality.

All of a sudden, a healthy, collaborative and human conversation has ensued.

Cool, right?

As always, "leading with intention" is Batman and "applying context" is Robin.

Effective delivery is everything

Zoe's magic question can be used in any area of our lives.

But beware...!

Even if your "ask" looks good on paper...

You'll land yourself in hot water if your delivery sucks.

Remember these 3 key points:

Slow down:

Decrease the pace of your ask to display confidence and combat nerves.


Don't underestimate the power of an authentic smile. This can impact vocal intonation, warmth and connection.

Zip it:

Once you've asked for what you desire...sit back and listen. Be comfortable with silence and don't talk yourself out of the 'sale'.

Bonus tip:

Use a rising inflection at the end of the question to display curiosity.

Action step

If your current strategy for hearing a "YES" more often was working perfectly...

You wouldn't still be reading this newsletter (wink).

So my friend, in the next 24 hours, try these 3 steps:

  1. Priming: Write down an "ask" you've been avoiding and frame it using Zoe's magic question.

  2. Training Day: Practice your ask in a "no stakes scenario" 15+ times (e.g. in the mirror).

  3. Game Day: Deploy your ask, zip it and watch the sorcery unfold.

The proof is in the pudding

On February 25th 2022, I sent Dr Zoe Chance a connection request on LinkedIn and it was met with warmth.

20 days later, I dropped her a 55 second voice note in the DM's.

Intentional, research driven and fully personalized.

At the end of my message, I asked Zoe to be a guest on my podcast using her magic question.

She acknowledged it with a smile and kindly accepted my invitation.

On that day, Zoe knowingly took a chance on a podcast that was fresh off the press...

And for that, I'll always be grateful.

Incase you're interested...

Click here to listen to the full thang on The Influential Communicator Podcast!

(Oooo quick side note - my podcast launched in early 2022 and currently has 78 episodes in the bank...binge away my friend!)

All in all, what I'm trying to say is...

Go out there and get what you deserve!

But remember, this framework isn't an excuse to start pitch slapping people.

I repeat, "leading with intention" is Batman and "applying context" is Robin.

And there you have it, you've officially read my first Newsletter release.

I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I loved writing it!

I'll see you in your inbox at the same time next week.

Happy asking.

Much love,

Ravi Rajani

P.S. Enjoy the content? Share the below with your REVENUE leader...

1. Book me for a storytelling keynote or workshop: Follow in the footsteps of B2B revenue teams who've ditched feature selling for storytelling at their sales kickoff or company offsite.

2. Learn more about my Storyselling Bootcamp: Want your sellers to have a "story bank" they can use in their sales conversations for connection and conversion? Book an alignment call today to learn more about my S.T.O.R.Y Selling Framework.

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