How to Make Requests to Promote Trust and Teamwork-June 2009

People Whispering Tip:

One of the most empowering skills to learn in business and in life in general is the art of making effective requests. Whether you are a formal leader or a leader without title, you need to ask people to do things for you and be able to respond to what is asked of you. Whether requests are met successfully or not depends upon two factors: effective communication and the level of trust in the relationship.

Let’s address the effective communicating of a request first. Unfortunately, far too many people make “on the fly” requests as if they were going through a drive-in window at a fast food restaurant. You know the kind of request I mean. Your manager peeks in your office or cubicle and says, “I’d like you to send Jack an email and pull the report figures together by 3 PM today as I have a meeting with Bill at 4 PM” while he or she is walking out the door. While it may be asked in a polite tone, this is not a question or an effective request. You may be able to say no or make a counter-offer, but it certainly isn’t something that is invited.

Ideally, a request should allow for a response as there may be a better way to accomplish any given objective. A lengthy dialogue or discourse on a simple decision isn’t necessary of course, but far too often people don’t think through the implications of sloppy requests on trust and teamwork. For example, have you ever had anyone in your organization (or life) ask you to do something for the next day when they really didn’t need it until next week? Worse yet, we are sometimes asked to do something the requester really didn’t need at all. If they had asked for your input, you might have been able to share some valuable information that would have pointed to a better way or approach. It’s the classic, “ignoring the people on the front line who really know what is going on” blind spot of senior management.

The Elements of an Effective Request are as follows:

1. By when: what is the date by when the request is to be fulfilled?

2. How: in what method should the request be fulfilled? Is there a specific process that should be followed?

3. Intended result: when the request is fulfilled, what should be the result, what do you want to have or receive as a result of the request being fulfilled?

4. Method of communication: how do you want to receive information about the progress of your request?

And yes, DiSC style does have an impact upon how you may tend to make requests and the parts of a request you may overlook. This can affect how you are perceived by others in terms of trustworthiness, particularly if they have a different style than yours. For instance, high D’s and i’s tend to leave out the specifics of “by when” and “how” that are so helpful to the S and C behavioral/personality styles. Likewise, the high S’s and C’s may tend to overlook sharing the “intended result” and the “method of communication” assuming D’s and i’s will just know. These are generalizations of course, but they have a fair amount of face validity.

Dr. Ralph Colby of Integro Learning developed a trust model around the DiSC model that can prove helpful. My colleague Keith Ayers shared these helpful distinctions with me. The elements of this model are reliability, acceptance, openness, and straightforwardness. The definitions of these terms are my interpretations of how they show up in interpersonal relationships as follows:

• Reliability – doing what you say you are going to do

 • Acceptance – being accepting of a person and giving them the benefit of the doubt

 • Openness – being transparent with your thoughts, feelings, and emotions

• Straightforwardness – being direct and to the point

Again, because of natural blind spots and lack of awareness of the importance of style in interpersonal communication, each style has its trust challenges. In general, the poorest marks for reliability go to high i’s, for acceptance to D’s, for openness C’s, and for straightforwardness S’s. On the positive side, C’s are often most reliable, S’s most accepting, i’s most open and D’s the most straightforward. While other factors including individual values and nationality or culture have an impact, these hold true fairly universally.

To learn more about how to use DiSC to increase trust and teamwork in your organization, email us at Laura@lauraadavis.com or call us at 404-327-6330. Also feel free to check us out on Linkedin and Facebook at Laura A. Davis, to visit our website and store at http://www.lauraadavis.com, and/or to follow me on Twitter at Coachlad.

DiSC Assessment Application:

Last month, I mentioned the fact that the MBTI tended to be used more frequently than the DiSC assessment for career development purposes. Personally, I think DiSC is even more effective in the workplace for any application because it is more behavioral and observable and therefore more transparent and user-friendly while still providing as much if not more depth and richness of interpretation. Watch for “Training” magazine’s “Dare to Compare!” promotion of the newly released Everything DiSC Workplace Profile.

We will be inviting MBTI users to compare Everything DiSC Workplace with the MBTI for FREE. The Everything DiSC Workplace is the first DiSC program to be exclusively designed to help build more effective relationships one relationship at a time. It can be used with everyone in an organization, regardless of title or role, to improve the quality of the workplace. Call us to find out how to use the new Everything DiSC Workplace Facilitation kit and assessment report to achieve your organization’s objectives. Call 404-327-6330 or email us at Laura@lauraadavis.com.

Transformational Coaching Tip:

 Another block to not having the skills to inspire trust through effective requesting, is plain and simple fear. The following are some questions to ask yourself regarding how fear might be getting in the way of you developing trust and teamwork personally and professionally.

• What things might you have done in your life if fear hadn’t stopped you?

 • What would you do with the rest of your life if you had no fear? I’m not advocating reckless abandon of security but what risks might you take if you knew you couldn’t fail?

• Do you ever find yourself not communicating to your coworkers, customers, clients, and loved ones for fear of saying or doing the wrong thing?

• Do you ever find yourself hinting at what you need to say to someone rather than “saying what you mean to say” as the John Mayer song goes?

I can assist you in getting results in business by moving through these fears and limiting beliefs and acquiring the skills you need to achieve your dreams. I will look forward to hearing from you!

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