How asking works better than demanding in relationships

2 Apr

Making demands is so easy and it often seems like a great way to get things done or acquire what one desires. Incidentally asking isn’t all that difficult either and believe it or not doing so usually yields better long and short term results. It also can’t be argued that demanding people often seem to get things done with greater speed more often, but like many things in life appearances often belie the truth. With that known you may wonder why anyone would make demands of another person.

Let’s first take a look at what a demand is and why people impose them on others in all forms of relationships. A demand is a direct order to carry out a task or provide something, they have no gray area for compromise. Demands are necessary at times because there are circumstances which call fir them, imagine running a business solely based on asking your employees to do their job and you’ll see a business that is doomed to fail. In personal relationships however demands aren’t quite as necessary and tend to have the opposite effect than is intended. In case you’re wondering why, it is because there is a world of difference between the two dynamics. In a working relationship demands are expected, they are a part of life. In a personal or familial relationship they are just considered rude.

Asking on the other hand is leaving the decision to fill the request in the hands of the person queried. Asking leaves room for compromise and provides a person with the ability to refuse without implying that their refusal will result in any ill will being returned their way. It is the polite way of doing things and gives the person asked a far different outlook. It provides the impression whether real or perceived that they are valued and not looked upon as someones beck and call servant having no purpose but to carry out another persons bidding,

Why asking is so much more effective in relationships is it shows a person respect. It says you value their time and abilities and would appreciate them doing something for you. Asking frames things in the form of a favor being carried out. By successfully carrying out a request it is implied that if a favor is asked for in return it also will be carried out to reciprocate the goodwill already banked. Very briefly consider whether you are more likely to get that beer you want from the fridge without getting out of your chair if you ask for someone to get it for you or if you tell them to get it for you. Demanding may work once or twice but it sure won’t last, and if you don’t believe that try it out at home as your own little experiment and see how you fare.

People that make demands tend to get away with it temporarily, it is not by any means a way of getting things done long term. Demands wear people’s nerves thin and do so in a hurry. Nobody likes being constantly pressured to do things. People that ask however aren’t being rude, because as stated above they are giving the asked a choice. Therefore asking doesn’t rub people the wrong way and remains an effective means of getting things done in a personal relationship seemingly indefinitely. Not only that, but people that constantly make demands are often viewed as bullies and bullies just aren’t that popular. Asking for help rarely if ever is seen as bullying.

Even in an organization like the military that runs on demands or “orders” the value of asking is greatly stressed as a way of getting things done which are non-critical. Many years ago the first thing that was taught at the Non Commissioned Officers Academy (NCOA) was the phrase “would you get us some coffee?” Many people took this as a joke, but it made a valid point as to how to get things done. A request of that nature works for two reasons; one is that it is an actual request, and the second is that it implies a level of equality. It asks if the person would get “us” something, not “me.” Of course this tactic wouldn’t be used in a scenario like combat, saying “would you go check that bunker out for us?” is clearly not going to work.

Finally asking is just good old fashioned polite. Believe it or not people like helping people, and they are far more willing to do so when a person is nice and asks for it. It is hard to turn down a request for aid, especially those that are very simple. It’s an old and widely used phrase, but honey catches more flies than salt and asking is certainly honey in the comparison of these two manners of getting things done. Ask and you may get all you seek, demand and you will get some things done at the cost of being viewed in less than generous terms.

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