Teach Your Kids to Ask for the Ketchup

ketchupDriving on a long car trip with my adult son Josh is always a pleasure. Josh’s myriad of interests coupled with his loquaciousness makes for a pleasant journey. Travelling on Interstate 81, we were discussing pollution, global warming, poverty and the gravitational pull of the universe, to name just a few of the light topics.

Our discussion of poverty moved to income disparity, which led to salary inequality. Josh said that researchers have proven that employees who ask politely and professionally are granted more raises. Assuming that an employee asks once or twice a year, over a 40 year employment history, those increases of 1 to 2% can and do make a substantial difference.

Only half of the employed population has ever asked for a raise, according to PayScale.com.

We started discussing “If employees have this information, and they supposedly want more money, why don’t they ask?”

At this point, my daughter Katie, who we thought was sleeping, piped up, “Because their parents don’t teach them to ask for the ketchup.”


“Yeah, when I go out to dinner with friends, they don’t ask for the ketchup. They won’t even ask for a fork if they don’t have one.”

Katie continued, “They’re so afraid that they won’t be viewed as ‘nice’ that they won’t even ask.”

So, is asking for the ketchup a transferable skill? Are teenagers who can politely ask for the ketchup in a restaurant better equipped as young adults to ask for a raise? I think so and I am proud of Katie for seeing the correlation.

One of the questions I have for all of us is, do we consistently and appropriately ask for what we need and want in our work? If not, why not? If you don’t feel comfortable in these situations, practice helps. If you’re not teaching your children or your employees these skills, it’s time to start.

And if you are one of those people who ask for the ketchup, the mustard, the mayonnaise, the relish, the steak sauce and can you bring them all in fresh unopened bottles, there will be a different newsletter for you in the future.
Are you asking politely for what you professionally deserve?


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