- Being skillful at making requests is how you initiate action. It’s also how you motivate people to want to collaborate with you and to follow your lead.
Making requests is a powerful way to foster collaborative relationships with others and to work toward creating win-win solutions. When you make a request, you transform the role you’re casting the other person in. Now, the other person becomes a co-creator; someone to make something new with. A collaborator, in the truest sense of the word. It is in this environment that people feel inspired to create and grow into their best selves.
Well-formed requests have the power to influence others, bring about more alignment, and compel action in service of a desired result, even when you don’t have authority in the organizational sense.
Here are some tips on forming powerful and effective requests:
- Clarity. Get clear about what you want. Have a specific goal in mind before you make a request.
- Positivity. Request a positive action, as opposed to a negative action; do so by using action language (i.e., tell someone what you do want them to do rather than telling someone what you don’t want them to do.)
- Precision. Make precise asks that involve concrete actions.
- Reasonableness. Request, don’t demand. This means that the person receiving your request is able to say “no” and life will go on.
- Language. Use request language (e.g., “it would help me if ___” or “could you ___ so that ___”); avoid complaint language (e.g., “why do you always___,” “don’t ___,” “you [or someone else] should ___”)
Once you’ve made your request, it’s a good idea to get a commitment from the other person that they will perform your request (by, e.g., asking, “can you do that?”). Without it, you can’t be sure your request has landed.