Request with Request Words

Maybe it's time to request what will make your life better. Have you described the situation without judgment? Have you used a feeling word that owns how you feel? Have you connected that feeling with some common human desires? Now your request might get you what you want.

It's best to connect requests with feelings and common human desires. This way the other person can understand and use the request to meet some of his or her own desires, too. Most humans have a desire to contribute to the well-being of others.

When my request clarifies how another person can make my life more wonderful right now, I'm more likely to receive what I want than if my request sounds like something else. If I sound like I'm blaming, demanding, or merely hinting, I make it more difficult for the other person to give.

I will make my requests short and one-step. Since I've already well-said my feelings and wants, I don't need to extend that part of the conversation. One-step simplicity is much more easily understood, remembered, and accomplished, than five or ten steps.

I will make my requests active and affirming. "Attend a class" rather than "Change your thinking." "Say I love you" rather than "Be more loving." "Jump down" rather than "Don't jump on the bed." "Hit the ball" rather than "Don't miss this ball."

Before requesting, I will examine whether I'm demanding or requesting. There is a time to demand, for that person's protection. Most of the time however, I choose to request rather than demand because I myself feel more motivated when someone requests rather than demands of me.

A demand is known by its after effects. So I ask myself before hand, "If that person doesn't comply with my request, how will I respond?" With punishment, or with distance? "If that person does comply, how will he or she feel?" Shamed, guilted, obligated, or scared?

If my request is truly a request rather than a demand, I will meet a No response with understanding for the other person's feelings and desires. I may request him or her to tell me feelings and desires so I can understand better. Then I have new information and can start my observations again.

Now we're ready to look at column four on the Observation Worksheet. Starting with "Would you be willing to . . .", write some requests that are short, one-step, active, and affirming. Look at the list of Request Words for ideas or to get started.

Some of the ideas for this article come from these works:

Patterson, Kerry, Joseph Grenny, David Maxfield, Ron McMillan, Al Switzer. Crucial Accountability: Tools for Resolving Violated Expectations, Broken Commitments, and Bad Behavior. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill, 2013.

Patterson, Kerry, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan, Al Switzer. Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking when Stakes Are High. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill, 2002.

Copyright 2014 Wilma Zalabak