TriCom Technical Services

Telling vs. Asking

In Advice, appreciation, coworkers, etiquette, networking, team, team work, work environment, workplace on March 14, 2013 at 11:58 am

Most of us work in a team environment, or with other people, right? So when you need someone to do something for you, do you nicely ask for their help, or do you simply say you need something?

It’s something we may not think about every day, but it can certainly make a difference. Nobody likes a Bill Lumbergh.

Telling builds walls of defense. Telling puts distance between people. Telling crumbles the foundation of a relationship.

Asking brings people together. Asking creates a sense of cooperation, and in a larger sense, creates community. Asking builds trust and makes the relationship stronger.

Dan Ohler of Yahoo! wrote similarly on the subject back in 2007…

The challenge is to focus your intention and attention on asking for what you want. Here’s the how-to:

  1. Become consciously aware of your thoughts before you let the words slip past your lips. This can be critical in building and maintaining professional relationships.
  2. At any point where your tendency is to tell someone, “You should…”, “We need to…”, “Do this…”, “Don’t do that”, or anything of that nature, it will be very helpful to stop and organize your thoughts to form questions to ask with end results in mind.
  3. Clarify in your mind exactly what you want and ensure that the desired result is healthy and respectful for all involved.
  4. Reframe the statement in your mind so it is a question. Use, “Could you please…?”, “Would it be possible for you to…?”, or “Will you help me with…?” These types of questions open up all kinds of choices and possibilities. It includes the other person as a valuable resource and allows you both to look at the situation with a different perspective.

One of two things will occur. (1) The person will gladly fulfill your request, or (2) the conversation will open up to positive negotiation which may lead to a solution far better than either person thought possible.

Stopping to think about how you speak with others can greatly improve your relationships, be they professional or personal. Taking time to be polite works well for everyone involved.


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