How to Make Requests
How many times have you wanted something from someone else, and been frustrated and disappointed when they don’t come through for you? An effective tool for asking for what we want from another person is to use a Nonviolent Communication (NVC). Asking for what you want can be a vulnerable thing to do, so getting clear on the specifics and approaching another person with consideration is key, and can up your chances of hearing a yes.
First, pay attention to what needs of yours are being met by having your request received. Do you want understanding, support, consideration and ease? For example, saying, “you always leave the kitchen a mess! You know I make dinner during the weekdays and you have to help! You are so inconsiderate. Can’t you clean up?” is both a strong criticism and a vague demand, which most people will reject, likely responding with defensiveness and a big “NO” along with increased resentment and blame.
Instead, using NVC, make a clear observation, state your feelings and your needs (without blame), and use the acronym PLATO as a guide: Person, Location, Action, Time, and Object. In the case of the dirty kitchen, it could sound like this:
When I come home from work and see dirty dishes in the sink, food left out, and stuff on the counters (observation)...
I’m mad and discouraged (feelings)...
because having a clean and tidy kitchen makes it easier for me to focus on making meals for us (needs for order, focus, support).
Request: Would you (Person) be willing to take on the kitchen (Location) cleaning by doing the dishes, putting the food away and wiping down the counters (Action) when you come home from work, before I start making dinner during the weekdays (Time), including using the cleaning supplies (Object) we have under the sink?
Clear, specific, doable requests, free of criticism and blame, are helpful ways start improving your communication and getting more of what you want.