Making Requests

“Making a request is much more powerful than asking a favour.” Andy McNeilly.

Making a request in its simplest form is just asking someone for something. However, the person asking someone to do something may be waiting for a long time for their request to be fulfilled if the request doesn’t have a ‘by when’ attached to it. For example, “I request you finish this task by Thursday,” would more likely gain a result when the result is needed.

What can be more fun is to make an ‘unreasonable request’ of someone. What you determine is unreasonable is up to you. The person receiving the request has three options: Firstly, they can decline to carry out the request. Secondly, they can accept. And, finally, they can make a counteroffer, or change the request. Once I became clear about the difference between making a request and asking a favour of somebody, I discovered that it was more powerful to make a request. For me, asking a favour of someone is linked to helping out, being kind or being nice. A request, on the other hand, is simple. Someone can accept the request, decline or make a counteroffer. Making a request can help us to be clear with each other about what is being asked and when it is requested to be done by. It can help us all to avoid disappointment.

I request that this week you try one of the following ideas together as a family.

  • Make three requests of someone in your family in one go. The person must first listen to all three requests before choosing one to accept, declining another, and making a counteroffer for the third one.
  • Think about a request that you could ask of someone in your family that you would almost certainly guarantee they would accept. Their job is to decline. Your job is keep making the same request and their job is to continually decline. What did you both notice?
  • Write down a list of requests to make of different people in your family. Your task is to predict if each request will be accepted, declined or counteroffered.
  • Make a list of all the jobs that are done around the house each week. Each person gets to choose one of the jobs from the list and request that someone else does that task. What happened?
  • Think about your favourite game and request that others play that game with you.
  • Make a request of someone that they cook your favourite meal. Did they accept, counteroffer or decline your request.
  • Create some blank cards with ‘accept’ written on some and ‘decline’ written on others. Cards are placed face down on the table. Take it in turns to make requests of someone before they draw a card to see if they accept or decline your request. Should they need to complete the task if they turn an ‘accept’ card? Consider adding a ‘counteroffer’ card into the game.
  • Choose a family movie and request that others in your family watch it with you.
  • Have someone make a request of you. Your job is not to accept or decline the request, but to make a counteroffer of their request. Did they accept or decline your counteroffer?
  • Make a list together of some unreasonable requests that you could make of others. Discuss why you think they are unreasonable requests. Pick a few unreasonable requests from your list and try them on some of your friends or family. What did you notice?

When I started teaching, I became involved with helping to run the annual school fair. After a couple of years, I was coordinating the whole event. The fair was the major fundraiser for the school, bringing in extra money to run programs and provide facilities for the children. The event was always scheduled for early on in the year when the weather is usually predicted to be fine.

The start of any school year for a teacher is always hectic; setting up the classroom, establishing relationships with new students and sorting out all the administrational paperwork. Running the school’s fair at that time of the year would be nearly impossible to do on my own. As the coordinator of the fair, I needed to make requests of parents and teachers within the school community. Many people volunteered their time, however there were still so many tasks that needed to be completed. Making requests of others was the only way to get the job done.

“Unfettered access is an unreasonable request.” Jack Finn.

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