Is there a conversation you’ve been putting off? 

One where you’re afraid of how the other person will respond?

Maybe you need to tell your boss that you’re struggling with dynamics at work. You want to request a more reasonable workflow or better communication. But you’re not sure how they’ll react. 

Perhaps you want to tell your partner that you feel called to pursue work far away from where you live. You don’t yet know how to honor your apparently conflicting needs to follow your calling and nurture your relationship. You want to ask for your partner’s help with thinking through this creatively. But again, you don’t know how they’ll react. 

Whatever conversation you need to have, when you know how to make skillful requests, you will have an easier time inspiring others to support you, successfully meeting your needs, and getting clear about your next steps.

But it can be scary to ask for what you need. 

If what you’re asking for means a lot to you, it is normal to worry that the other person will react negatively. You might worry about damaging your relationship or being rejected from a group you’re a part of. It can feel more comfortable to cope with the status quo than to risk hearing no

However, while there are risks involved in making requests, there are often even greater risks involved in not making requests.

Avoiding conflict usually creates more conflict. 

If you don’t ask for what you need, you may end up stockpiling grievances and feeling resentful. If you don’t risk being vulnerable, you may distance yourself from someone you love. 

As humans, we can fall into the trap of thinking that if other people really cared about us, they’d know what we want and give us what we need. But the harsh reality is, other people can’t read our minds. 

To get what we want, we usually need to ask for it. 

The root of the word courage is the word cor, which is Latin for heart. Speaking your truth from your heart without judgment or blame—even if it’s just to yourself in the mirror—is an act of courage. 

When you make clear, compassionate, courageous requests, you create a greater possibility for connection. You invite the other person to become a stronger ally, and you are more likely to receive what you need. 

So how do you make a request that maximizes your chances of inspiring the support you desire?

There are several steps to maximize the likelihood of a positive outcome. When you take these steps, even if you don’t get what you want, at least you’ll know you did your best. 

I’ll share the first two steps with you today and the final eight next week.

To begin, grab your journal. Think of a request that you want to make but are afraid to make. Write down the situation at the top of the page. 

Then, read through the following steps to skillful requests. After reading each step, write down how you might apply the step to the conversation you need to have. 

One: Clarify your intention. One reason that conversations feel frustrating or go nowhere is that people aren’t clear about why they’re talking in the first place. To share your truth with others, you must first share it with yourself. 

Before you make an important request, discern how you feel, what you need, and what you want to request. Decide what you’d like to come away from the conversation with, even if the other person doesn’t respond in the way you’re hoping they will. 

If you’re concerned that the conversation has the potential to get heated, make conscious agreements with yourself about how you will communicate. This might sound like: 

  1. I will be honest about how I feel and what I need. 
  2. If I get mad, I will pause and take five deep breaths. 
  3. I will not criticize the other person. 
  4. If I do, I will pause and apologize. 
  5. If I get really triggered, I will let the other person know I need a break and schedule a time to return. 

When you adhere to the agreements you set with yourself, you’re likely to come away from the conversation knowing you did your best. 

To clarify your intention, ask yourself: 

  1. What are my intentions for the conversation? 
  2. What agreements will I make to myself about how I’ll communicate, even if the other person doesn’t respond to how I hope? 
  3. How will I stay settled and grounded?

Two: Use a soft startup. How a conversation begins largely determines how it ends. If possible, start the conversation by thanking the other person for something that you sincerely appreciate.

Ask yourself:

  1. How will I begin the conversation? 
  2. Is there a way to start with gratitude?

I invite you to practice these two steps in your conversations in the coming week—clarifying your intentions before starting important conversations and being conscious about how you begin. I look forward to sharing the rest of the steps with you next week.

Until then, wishing you health and happiness.

Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Much love,

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