Needing to ask for someone's help at some point is almost unavoidable, and there are some useful ways to go about it, says Harvard Business Review.

The Management Tip of the Day offers quick, practical management tips and ideas from Harvard Business Review and HBR.org (www.hbr.org). Any opinions expressed are not endorsed by Reuters.

Whether they are holding a door open or introducing you to a potential client, everyone offers favors at different times in life. But asking someone for a big favor can be daunting.

Next time you need someone's help, follow these three steps.

1. Set the stage. Be explicit about the nature of your request. The phrase, 'I have a favor to ask,' implies a contract in which you will someday try to return the favor.

2. Explain the reason. People like to know why they are being asked to do something. Saying 'Can you cover that meeting for me?' is far less effective than 'Can you cover that meeting for me because I have another meeting I can't miss?'

3. Give an out. No one feels good about being forced to do something. Offer an escape route by saying. 'If you can't, I understand,' or I know you're busy.'

-Today's management tip was adapted from Asking for a Favor: The Three Keys by Jodi Glickman.

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