Requesting Support - A Step by Step Guide

Every complaint you have is the result of a request that you have not yet made

Requests are a call for assistance and are an essential tool for human accomplishment. Our capacity to generate future possibilities is largely linked to our effectiveness in making requests.
It might come as no surprise to you, but a lot of people have a really tough time asking for support. This is often due to a variety of factors, the biggest being that they actually don’t know how!

In an effort to assist you in feeling supported, safe and confident, I would like to share with you how to effectively make requests.

What is a request?

A request is an action that you take when you seek the assistance of another in satisfying an underlying concern that you have.

A request invites future action by another, or others, and it involves a commitment on the part of the requester to be satisfied if the conditions if the request are met.

What is the purpose of a request?

The purpose of a request is to (effectively) ask for the assistance of someone else in performing a future action for you.

What responsibility do you have in making a request?

As the requester, it is your responsibility to be sincere in wanting that specific action to be performed. Asking someone for help is significant because you are asking that they add to their own workload, so it is important that when you do make requests, they be sincere and necessary.

Possible issues of a request:

  • Lack of sincerity in the request.
    If you ask for someone’s assistance when you don’t really need it, more often than not it leaves the other feeling as though you are taking advantage of them (think of the story of the boy who cried wolf). Be sincere when you request someone’s assistance.

  • If the conditions of the request are met and the requester is not satisfied the person fulfilling the promise may see the requester as manipulative and ungrateful, which will negatively impact their relationship.

  • Inability to frame clear requests.
    If you are unable to frame an effective and clear request, rest assured you are going to feel let down and unsatisfied.

So, how does one go about making effective requests?

There are seven elements of an effective request:

  1. Speaker

  2. Listener

  3. Shared understanding

  4. Assumed competence

  5. The speaker will be satisfied if xyz…

  6. By when (clear date and time)…

  7. Observe the mood (is it positive?)

All of the aforementioned elements must be present in order for a request to be effective.
I strongly recommend using this as a checklist next time you want to make a request.

Example of an ineffective request

Mom is in the kitchen and her two children are watching television.
She yells; “Will you please clean your room!”

This request in ineffective for a handful of reasons:
Firstly, mom does not have a clear listener - which child is she speaking to? Secondly, it is likely that mom and child(ren) do not have a shared understanding of what tidy means - think back to when you were a young child, ‘mom tidy’ was very different to ‘child tidy’. Thirdly, by when does mom want the child(ren) to tidy their room? If the children do not know, they are likely to let mom down. Fourthly, mom is yelling and this is not an appropriate manner nor mood in which to make a request.

Example of an effective request

Mom is in the kitchen and her two children are watching television.
Mom walks into living room, makes eye-contact with the children and says; “Angie and Michael, please will each of you pack away all the toys in your bedroom, and make sure your dirty clothes are in the laundry basket before dinner.”

As you can see, these requests are very different, and the latter is effective because it satisfies each of the seven elements of an effective request.


  • How often do you make requests in your personal/professional life?

  • How effective are your requests? What could you do to improve their effectiveness?

  • What possibilities do you shut down by the manner in which you make requests?

  • Review your current to-do list and consider what requests you will have to make in order to ensure that you are able to do what you plan to do on the list.