A is (also) for Ask
It seems so simple: just ask for what you want. But for many of us, it’s not simple. Instead of asking, we hint, we hesitate, we manipulate—anything but ask!
Why is it so hard? Reasons are as numerous as individuals, but many people got discouraged as children, because too often the answer to a request was some form of “no.”
We also sometimes imagine that the other person in a relationship (especially spousal) “should” already know what we want or need. But the fact is, very few of us are mind readers.
Hints don’t work very well either. The other person has to figure out “what she really means.” It’s awkward and unclear at best.
So we need to learn to ask. Think about these suggestions for your new skill:
Try being direct: “Would you be so kind as to…?” or “Will you please…?” and then state your desire. The other person is, of course, free to refuse. That may be why some of us would rather try to manipulate, to get a particular answer. But such manipulation muddies any relationship. A direct request is better.
If you feel nervous about being as simple as that, you might want to add how you feel about it: “I’d really like it if you would…Would you?” or “I need help with this. Will you please…?” Letting the other person know your request is important to you can soften the interchange if necessary and still be direct.
We often prefer something like, “How would you feel about doing…?” This can be a good indicator of what you need. It’s important that this form of question be used in a context of mutual recognition that an honest answer is expected. If the relationship has that quality, and if you really want to know how the other person feels, it’s a skilled way to put it.
In general it’s best to be simple and clear. That prevents confusion in communication, elicits a clear and honest answer, and often the response is the one you’d prefer. Just ask!
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