September 16, 2013

Do Your Requests Inspire Trust?


Have you noticed how some people tend to always get what they ask for at work: a raise, time off, more time, change in plans, etc.? And what’s more, everyone seems delighted to attend to their requests. What’s their secret?

You might remember when you were little, grownups requesting the magic “P” word when you asked for something: "What do you say?" And then we’d say: "Can I… PLEASE?" Demands and requests were clearly differentiated by the “P” word.

Intended or not, the effects of this practice reach beyond good manners. It taps into how our brains are wired: When a person hears your petition as a request, she feels the power to contribute to your wellbeing. If she willingly does so, she will feel satisfaction.

People who don’t care how their requests are received
instill distrust and have a hard time getting what they want.

When a request is heard as a demand, it feels like an imposition. This leads either to rejection or submission, both harboring feelings of resentment, anger or other nasty things that can pop up in the future to bite us.

In a grownups' world, where roles aren't always clearly defined, requests and demands can look a lot alike. A simple “please” might no longer do the trick:

"Hey Jeff, I want that budget by the end of the day please." "Kate, please send me the report now, got it?" Are these requests or demands? What counts is how the person hears your request. It’s what makes the difference to get what you want.

You get what you want when you voice your needs
in a way that others hear them as requests, not demands.

Three things you can do to assure your requests are heard as such: Prepare to hear “no”. Ask the person to tell you what she just heard you say. And promise yourself not to engage in persuasion until you've understood the person’s explanation.

This has an incredible effect: it shows you care about that person’s needs, not just your request. She will feel this. This generates trust, a new opening to express your request.

It’s funny: you get what you request by being prepared not to get it! Another option is not care, but that brings us to square one: demands. And we know how that ends, right?