I learned this exercise from one of my NLP (NeuroLinguistic Programming) teachers, and initially had a little hesitation in trying it.
The exercise is simply this:
Every day for the next week or so, simply go into a store or restaurant and seriously ask for an item they do not carry. Ask the grocery store cashier for a vacuum cleaner when she asks if you found everything that you were looking for. Or, ask for a pizza at Burger King.
The first time I did the exercise, I was pretty nervous. The “what if” machine in my head was working overtime. “What if they yell at me? What if I get embarrassed? What if people think I’m weird?…” And, then I asked for a gallon of olive oil at a Latin restaurant.
My server looked confused for a moment, and then smiled. She then politely informed me that they did not offer olive oil on the menu.
Most servers are pretty bored with their routine. They have been doing the same things over and over again all day. A break in the routine brightens their day. And, there’s a good chance they’ll think you are joking, and laugh. The world will be a slightly happier place for your odd request.
So, how does this exercise work to eliminate hesitation? The simplest explanation is that it causes us to break out of the normal ways of relating to a server or clerk. As we make a conscious effort to interrupt our own deeply ingrained social patterns in a safe and playful way, hesitation itself gets interrupted. What is left is a “go for it” attitude.
Why not try this NLP exercise? All you have to lose is your hesitation.