Powerful requests

Sometimes a powerful request is what it takes to pull you out of a rut.
Say, for example, a client says to me, “I never get time to read a good book any more.” From that, it’s clear that the person would like to read more, but really has not made any clear intention of doing anything about it. So I might ask, “Would you like to read a book?” If the answer is yes, it’s then quite natural to formulate that desire into a request, “Will you read for 15 minutes each day this week?” That simple request can turn a complaint into an action.

Of course, the client has options. They can say, “Yes. I will read each day. In fact, I’ll read for half an hour before bed.” Or they could say, “No. I actually don’t really want to read. I guess I just like complaining about it.” Or they can modify the request, “Well, I would like to read more, but every day is not realistic. I think for this week, I’ll find a good book and read it for an hour on Sunday.”

A request can help you do something you’ve been wanting to do.
A great request is one that comes from you. For example, if you tell me that you really wish you could stop being negative all the time, I could ask you to stop using negative language for a week.

If you agreed, then we could set up some mechanisms for you to be able to succeed. For example, you could keep a coin in your pocket. Each time you verbalized a negative thought about someone, you would have to move the coin from one pocket to another.  We could measure how many times you moved the coin on a given day and see if you improved during the week.

But what if you agree to the request, but then you don’t follow through?
That would be a great opportunity for us to learn more about you. Did you not follow through because the request wasn’t important to you?

Does it go against some secretly held beliefs you may have? “If I waste my time reading, I must be a lazy person. I didn’t even wash the dishes yet.”

Or does it mean that you are afraid of something? Afraid of success, or of failure?

Whether you followed through or not, we can approach the results with curiosity, not with judgment, and explore and learn something about it.

Sometimes you don’t believe in yourself, but I know you can do it.
What if you felt really embarrassed or nervous about confronting your spouse about how he is always making fun of you? I could make a request, “On the very next occasion that your husband teases you, please tell him with an open and pleasant expression, ‘Please don’t make fun of me for … It makes me feel … I’m asking you to ….’”

Once you took that action, you would feel really good about yourself and your strengths. We could talk about how to handle those “What-if” scenarios. We could use your success as a chance to celebrate what you’ve done. You would also have greater courage in other situations.

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