mentoring

Giving instructions can be a challenge

Asking others to do something feels tricky sometimes. It can be easier when there is a clear line of authority, such as when you are the owner and you are addressing an employee, but what about a situation where you might work with a dental team member without being the boss? Or when you are asking someone who is a peer or a colleague to do something?

It can be easy to veer between the demanding I need you to do this (somewhat dictatorial) and the lame It would be great if you would do this (somewhat passive-aggressive).

In the book How to Wow, communications expert Frances Cole Jones suggests the phrase My request is…

For instance:

  • My request is that this project be completed before Monday
  • My request is for a location that offers free parking
  • My request is to mark all requests for vacation time on the shared calendar

The beauty of “My request is,” notes Jones is that it leaves people in no doubt that a request has been made of them by you, but because you haven’t used the “I/you” combination, you avoid their feeling overwhelmed or beleaguered.

What about you—are there any phrases that you’ve found useful when giving instructions? Share your answers in the comments.