Rules of engagement: Making requests

Do you have a long list of needs that are never met? Do people complain that they feel bullied by you or perhaps, that you are a nag? Do you get mad when people don’t automatically know your needs? This strategy may help you to make a request with more desirable outcomes.¬† This skill is useful if you are trying to become more assertive, communicate less emotionally, reduce your manipulation of others, or honestly identify and take responsibility for your “stuff.”

I observe/notice…

Observable or noticeable features may be visible in a person’s face or behaviour. You may also notice your own internal reactions such as increased heart rate or worries. In stating an observable (measurable) fact, you can start the request in a calm and rational manner.

  • I observe that we spend less time together
  • I notice that you didn’t wash the dishes last night although you said you would
  • I notice that I am more withdrawn from you this week

I feel…

Feelings are usually one word descriptions. Feelings are not followed by terms such as “that” (I feel that…), “like” (I feel like…),¬† or “you” (I feel you…). By labeling your feeling, you are taking responsibility for it. Plus, nobody can argue with your lived experience!

  • I feel sad (unhappy, devastated, bitter, heart broken, troubled, hurt)
  • I feel angry (frustrated, irritated, annoyed, furious, enraged, livid, cross)
  • I feel anxious (scared, fearful, afraid, concerned, worried, troubled, uneasy, nervous)

I need…

This is probably the hardest thing to identify. So often we have learned that our needs are “too much” or even, sadly, that it is better or easier to be needless. To start, it may be easier to identify what you would like. Beware of demandingness: even if you identify what you need/would like (a hug, attention, down time, appreciation, compromise, help, etc), there are no guarantees that it will be granted.

Would you either…

Making a request specific (in terms of when, where, how long or how often, etc) and offering alternatives makes it easier for the listener to use their own sense of agency to meet your need. Giving them two or three choices gives the listener the opportunity to choose, thus still feel that they have some control.

Maximum success in stating your requests are dependent on the basics principles of good communication: tone, body language, and timing.

If you would like some help in becoming more assertive,¬†communicate less emotionally, reduce your manipulation of others, or honestly identify and take responsibility for your “stuff,” feel free to contact me to set up an appointment.