In life, we all need to ask others to do things for us. Whether at work, home, or school, we hope that when we make a request, people will say yes! The way to get a positive result more often is to combine the language of polite requests with the psychology of effective requests.
This document will show you how to make successful requests. It includes:
The language we use when making requests is based on three factors:
|Factor||What to Consider|
|Level of relationship||Are we asking a family member, a friend, a colleague, a boss, or a stranger?|
|Level of difficulty||How much time, effort, money, or other resources does our request demand?|
|Level of request||Is it a small, medium, or large request?|
If we are making a small request, our language can be direct, informal and short.
If the request is medium-sized, the language we use should be polite, formal and long.
If we need to make a large request, it is better to use very polite, very formal, and very long/lengthy language. This is summarized below.
|LARGE||Very Polite||Very Formal||Very Long|
|SMALL||direct, informal, short||Can I go now?|
|MEDIUM||polite, formal, standard||Do you think I could leave now?|
|LARGE||very polite, very formal, very long||I was wondering if it would be (at all) possible for me to leave early today?|
|SMALL||direct, informal, short||Got 5 bucks?|
|MEDIUM||polite, formal, standard||Could you please lend me $25?|
|LARGE||very polite, very formal, very long||I hope you don’t mind my asking but could I please borrow $250?|
You can use the requests above confidently whenever you are communicating in English. However, if you want to increase your chances of getting a positive response to your requests, you need to use a secret strategy! Read on to learn what happens when you combine the right language with the right psychology.
Researchers have found that by using the word “because” or giving people a reason for our request, we greatly increase our chances of getting a positive response – a yes. They found this to be true even if the reason that was given was not particularly good! Note the difference in the same examples given above when we add a reason.
|SMALL||direct, informal, short||Can I go now? ‘Cause I gotta pick up my kids.|
|MEDIUM||polite, formal, standard||Do you think I could leave now? I have another meeting in 5 minutes.|
|LARGE||very polite, very formal, very long||I was wondering if it would be (at all) possible for me to leave early because I have a flight this evening.|
|SMALL||direct, informal, short||Got 5 bucks? I need to buy lunch.|
|MEDIUM||polite, formal, standard||Could you please lend me $25? I need to get a haircut before my job interview.|
|LARGE||very polite, very formal, very long||I hope you don’t mind my asking but could I please borrow $250. I’m late on my rent and the landlord is threatening to evict me. (force me to leave the apartment)|
Did you notice how much more effective our requests become when we give a reason? In the situations above, did you feel more likely to say “yes” when the word “because” was used or when a reason was given? What you experienced is what happens to most other people, too!
So remember: When you need to ask someone for something, use the right language and the right psychology for the best results.
Make the following requests, using the right language and giving a reason.
|1||Medium||You want your secretary to send an email to your client.|
|2||Small||You want your brother to pick up a coffee for you.|
|3||Medium||You want your employee to finish a report by 5:00 pm.|
|4||Large||You want your boss to give you 3 days off next week off to look after a relative.|
|5||Medium/Large||You want your professor to let you hand in your assignment late?|
|6||Small||You want to know where your son put the key.|
|7||Large||You want to know if your boss can give you an advance on your salary.|
|8||Small||You want your friend to send you his class notes.|