Did your garbage can make it to the curb on time for pick up? Was your dinner served quickly so you could get to the movie on time? Did one of your key employees complete a task exactly as you wanted? Did date night with your spouse get canceled again? (Wait, do not answer that) If your answer for any of the above is no, then chances are you made or received an ineffective request. Making effective requests is a craftsmanlike skill that all leaders need. But have you ever thought about what is necessary to make an effective request? From an ontological perspective, there are 5 necessary ingredients:
- A speaker/requestor and a hearer/performer: How often have you heard the request that someone needs to do something, and then nothing happens? An effective request requires that the performer be clearly identified, and they know that they are the actual person to whom the request is being made.
- Conditions of satisfaction to a shared standard of a community. When making the request, what exactly does the requester want? This is where many breakdowns happen. Just because the request is clear to the speaker does not mean that the listener knows exactly what success looks like.
- Specified time for fulfillment. When does the request need to be fulfilled?
- Shared background of obviousness. This is critical in requests because what may be obvious to the speaker may not be obvious to the listener.
- For the sake of what. This allows the performer to know how to follow through with the request.
Imagine you made this request to me: Croft, will you please give me that red pen on the desk now, so that I can sign this document?
- Who is the Speaker/Requester, who is the Hearer/Performer = I am the performer. The request is to me.
- Conditions of satisfaction = I am to give you that red pen from the desk.
- Specified time for fulfillment = Now.
- Shared background of obviousness = Happy to say I am not color blind and I can carry out the request.
- For the sake of what = I know that this pen needs to be delivered to your hand so you can sign the document. If you said,” So I can give it as a gift to Lonnie down the hall,” I just might gift wrap if for you.
The next time one of your request goes unfulfilled, or you get results you did not desire, see where the breakdown occurred. See how you can make a better request to get the results you desired. Make sure your requests have all of the 5 critical ingredients.
Also, can you please let me know where to send you the red pen you requested.