Answering this truthfully means “going to your bottom line.” In a conversation, one where you want something — a favor, a decision, help with something truly important to you — there are literally dozens of possible interactions when you are making a request!
The Scenario…..You say what you want. Hopefully, it’s a direct statement and one that leaves no room for confusion. But perhaps it’s indirect. And that, as some say, is another “kettle of fish”….That suggests being DIRECT would typically predict success; however, this is not always the case. What?? This is about what you really and truly want when you ask for something.
Let’s say sometime on Tuesday you ask your partner to drive you to the airport on Saturday morning in time for a 7:00 a.m. flight. You are straight forward, direct, giving specific information. You feel good about yourself for being so direct, so assertive. Your partner’s response is a simple “Yes.”
You leave the conversation having gotten exactly what you asked for. Yet you feel a certain amount of angst! If you explore the REALLY/TRULY question, here’s what you might discover. First, you didn’t feel all that good about “the way” your partner responded! He/she said yes, but frowned, sounded a little grumpy, left the room quickly. Hummm! You have DOUBT. A couple of days go by, and you ask, “How are you feeling about taking me to the airport so early on Saturday?” This quite frankly is an effort to give your partner the chance to “get it right.” To say “it’s great…I’m good.”
Failing to get that response, now you try to make it better! You suggest the following: “I’ll get up early to make coffee. You stay in bed until the last minute. On the way home you can grab a paper and have breakfast in your favorite spot.” It’s a little like saying, “won’t getting up and trudging to the airport be fun?” But if you still get a pretty basic, “it’s ok.” AND you discover you are still trying for a response you have not gotten, it’s time to ask that question….. what is it you are REALLY/TRULY looking for?
Here’s my discovery. Most people, when asking for something from another person want the following:
I WANT YOU TO THINK WHAT I THINK, FEEL WHAT I FEEL, AND DO IT THE WAY I WOULD DO IT!
Really? Well, if you don’t identify with this, congratulate yourself on being a pretty self aware, healthy person! If I use this example in a presentation, there’s a pretty unanimous agreement, an ability to identify. A “knowing” this is a pretty good description of me. Some suggest this is more characteristic of women than men. My thought is that’s possible because we so want to feel connected to our significant other. And being out of step with that person in what we think and feel and would do feels like an uncomfortable “distance.” So the behavior is intended to “close the distance” — if you are LIKE me then I feel closer to you!
Most men would say they don’t have that need. That’s up for grabs. I have many male clients share they feel exactly the same thing. So perhaps it’s either harder to share, or perhaps, in reality, men have a slightly less intense need to remain connected.
So go back to the airport request. It’s a little like this: “I want you to go, I want you to want to go, I want you to like going, and I want you to have fun on the way!” Not bloody likely so early on Saturday. But you ARE GETTING WHAT YOU ASKED FOR — a ride to the airport. CAN you receive what you asked for with a tired, perhaps grumpy companion? If so, you are on your way to a better, less tense relationship…with your partner, and more importantly with YOURSELF…
Bottom line: be clear with yourself first, then with the person you are asking….it makes for a far better world!
Listen to Mike Manco and Linda Moore discuss this content, on Mike’s podcast, at SteveAndMikeRadio.com.