Early in my relationship with Amy, who is now the love of my life and the soon to be mother of my child, we were in the courting phase. Getting to know each other, learning what the other had to offer, and figuring out if this person is someone we wanted to get serious with.
As anyone who has dated a pet owner knows, getting a woman's animals to approve of you is half the battle. If the cat or dog approves, you are well on your way. This is a concept that has been much fodder for the romantic comedy genre, but it is quite true.
One of her cats is super friendly and loves everyone, but the other was skittish and standoffish. He was leery of this new, hairy creature who was hanging around. Both of her cats wore collars with name tags on them. Now, I know that cats like to be scratched on the back of the neck anyway, but I figured that a cat wearing a collar all the time might get particularly itchy there. I slowly approached the cat, rubbed his head a little and proceeded to scratch under the collar. He was purring contentedly in seconds.
I could have taken many approaches to this situation. I could have ignored the cantankerous cat and hope he comes around eventually. I could have tried to have a serious sit down talk with the cat, explaining that I'm really a good guy and that he should give me his paw of approval.
Does that second one sound absurd? Ask the cat nicely? That doesn't make sense. Even if he did understand me, which he doesn't, he doesn't care what I want. Absurd or not, think back in your life to times you have wanted something from someone. Did you try to tell them what you wanted, or did you consider that their collar might be itchy*?
*Most Americans have personal space issues and would not respond well to you scratching them under their collar. I recommend that for most situations you take this as an object lesson rather than specific advice.