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How to formulate an effective request for action

Requesting and demanding are two different approaches. Choose requesting...!

Leader Coach

The role of the leader has changed. You may be a student, a manager, an entrepreneur, or simply a person thrust into a team responsible for adjusting to the current Digital Age.

Succeeding in your role  requires the ability to build a trust relationship with your team members so that they are willing to collaborate with you and other team members in the pursuit of a common purpose or goal.

Becoming a leader coach has become a key leadership success factor in achieving maximum effectiveness and the best success in leading your business team.

"Why didn't you do as I asked?"

Do you happen to blame others for your problems? Do you actually realize that you may do it, and how ineffective your request for action can be?


Daily, we interact with others and rely upon them to do things that are important to us.

Manager coach toolkit

For instance, we may ask a colleague to help with a certain project , or presentation. The question is: how can you formulate your request in a way that it is unlikely to be perceived as a threat, demand, or negative evaluation by the other person?

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Effective requests for action share three key ingredients

1. They are framed to focus on what you want to do rather than what went wrong. E.g. "Please talk in a low voice in this room" versus "please do not shout in this room".

2. They are formulated as specific actions rather than vague actions. E.g. "I'd like you to tell me one thing that I did that you appreciate" versus "I want you to appreciate me".


3. They are formulated as a request, not a demand. E.g. Would you be willing to help me prepare this presentation? versus "I'd like you to help me prepare this presentation". 


An effective request is not formulated as a demand but as a question to which the other person is allowed not to respond. Requests are received as demands when the other person believes he/she will be blamed or punished if he/she doesn't comply.

You can help others trust that you are requesting, not demanding, by
  1. Indicating that you only want the person to comply if he or she can do so willingly

  2. Not instilling guilt when the  the other person does not respond to the request

  3. Not becoming angry or aggressive when the other person does not respond to the request

The key success factor to achieve that? Empathy. Show an empatic understanding of what prevents someone from doing as he or she was asked. An easy way to remember is the analogy with a coin: A coin has two sides. Showing empathy means trying to understand what the other side says.

Mastering effective requests takes time, reflection, patience and discipline.

As a Lean consultancy, we are passionate about simplicity and Lean is a mindset that we apply in all our areas of activity. Our Lean Office and Leadership-oriented communication training programs act as a catalyst to help you accelerating your professional skills and abilities to face the future of work.

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