The Nature of Requests

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Requests are not directives — they live in conversation

How often do we find ourselves hearing a request, waiting until we walk away from that person, and then say to ourselves, “I have no idea what my boss or colleague is asking me to do?” This universal experience is both comical and frustrating at the same time.

Making and receiving requests are foundational speech acts in the workplace. Done with care, a request reveals both conditions of satisfaction for the speaker and the critical role of the listener as a partner in the exchange. Through conversation, we can discover a hidden efficiency and reduce the cycle of repetition of the request as we seek a common understanding.

This week on the show, we’re going to explore the nature of requests, how to engage as a listener in those conversations, and a powerful alternative to merely accepting or declining what is asked of you: the counteroffer.

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