I Shouldn't Have To Ask

By Chris Chittenden

“Half the promises people say were never kept, were never made.”

… Edgar Watson Howe (1853 - 1937) US editor, novelist, humorist, essayist

Have you ever heard someone in their frustration say, “I shouldn’t have to ask, they should know that they should help me ...” We have certainly heard something like that many times over in our work and life in general.

Fernando Flores, who was one of the innovators of ontological coaching, once said, “Show me someone who is suffering and I will show you someone who is not making enough requests.” He was putting into words something that is evident to many people in the world of coaching and building better relationships. This is that people who do not generally get what they want from others do not actually ask for it. Rather they do things that they believe will make it obvious to the other person that they should take some action. They rattle the dishes to make it obvious that they are cleaning them and expect help. They declare what is missing or what is needed in the hope that someone will offer to provide it for them. Certainly this approach may produce results, but it is far more likely to produce frustration and ultimately resentment as their wishes go unheeded.

All too often, we see people who suffer because they cannot or will not make a request to someone else. It could be that they were brought up in a household where they were taught not to ask. They may feel that asking others for assistance is a sign of weakness or incompetence. They may have a sense low self-esteem and feel they do not have the right to ask others. The reasons why people do not make requests are many and varied, yet they all lead to a similar destination; more often than not frustration and resentment.

Making requests of each other and the promises these requests generate can expand what is possible for us. We can make requests to get work done, change behaviour, build relationships and seek to create a world that is more to our liking. Rather than living in the hope that something will change or someone will behave differently, we can make requests to directly affect our situation. In our coaching work, one of the questions that constantly sits with us is “What requests could this person be making?” We are looking for ways for our clients to engage others to help get what they want in life. If there is something that is currently missing in your world, we invite to ask yourself the same question and then go ask!

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© 2007 Chris Chittenden