Asking for what you need might not be easy, but is one of the best relationship building activities around.
Just like the Rolling Stones sang back in 1969, “You can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometime, you just might find you get what you need”. So how can we get what we need? We just need to ask.
When we try to dance around an issue, oftentimes both parties leave the interaction dissatisfied- needs aren’t met, emotions run high, and occasionally things end up worse off than they were. From customer service to interoffice communication, it’s important to have a good way to ask for what you need.
Ask for help: Do you need assistance or a favor? Let the person know. Saying “I’m hoping you can help with this issue” or “I would appreciate your help” tells the person you are speaking to that you need something from them, while setting an appreciative tone. Avoid leading with anger, especially in an emotional situation. Launching into a rant is the quickest way to shut down the person on the other end of the communication.
Lay it all out: Tell the person what you need in no uncertain terms. If you don’t ask for what you need, you can’t expect someone to magically guess and accommodate you. Obviously, rules of etiquette (and rationality!) apply, but if it is something you can obtain from the other person, fire away clearly! After setting a tone of positivity and appreciation, lay it out: “Our bill is incorrect by $30.” “I can’t go to this meeting.” “I would like to use the armrest attached to my seat.”
You can’t always get what you want: OK, so you can’t win them all. If you find that your request is denied, try and find a way to step back, evaluate things, and approach it again when cooler heads can prevail. In a customer service situation? Take your plea to a higher authority if possible. Kindly ask to speak to a manager if your query isn’t resolved. In a business setting? Offer to re-evaluate your plea and ask if you can revisit the subject at another time: “Let me check my schedule and see if I can work out a way to be at this meeting. If not, can we discuss this again at a later date?”