Merge's Blog

Ask, don’t command!

In the workplace, you have to count on other people to help you get things done.  This is a known truth, and any one who’s ever worked in a company or organization will confirm this fact.  Which is why I am constantly astonished to see people sabotage themselves by saying and doing things that reduce the likelihood of others helping them.  Here’s one common self-sabotage: commanding or ordering people to do things, instead of asking.

Just the other day, I watched a manager say to his assistant — ” Cassie, have that report on my desk by 2:30 this afternoon,” as he sailed past her desk, went directly to his office, and got on the phone.  No doubt Cassie did exactly what he told her to!  But could it have really hurt him to ask instead of command?  What if he’d said “Cassie, can you have that report on my desk by 2:30 this afternoon?”  And then waited for a few seconds to get Cassie’s concurrence?  Do you think, just perhaps, that the second approach might have accomplished his goal AND made Cassie feel good about what she was being asked to do?

Don’t underestimate the power of words.  Even this slight change in choice of words can make a huge difference in how people respond to and act on what you say to them.

What do you think?  Is what I am describing true, or is this just another example of being hypersensitive in the workplace?

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