If you are a reader of this blog or my book, you know that I am a fan of making requests to generate breakthroughs. Well, here's a different twist - the reverse request.
What's a reverse request? A reverse request is what happens when you help others make requests. It can look and feel a few different ways:
1. You know what someone wants and you offer it (or some version of it).
2. You engage in a conversation that helps someone articulate what he or she wants. Then you ask what you or someone else could do that would be most helpful.
3. You provide the courage - courage on loan - that helps someone else make something big happen.
I have a pal who is very conservative when it comes to being assertive about her hopes, dreams, and wishes. She does not want to be a bother and feels a bit selfish to ask (I am not putting words in her mouth, we have talked about this).
Here's the thing - it's not selfish to make requests, because when we are at our best everyone wins. Anyway, that's her struggle and she never asks. Every now and then, I put myself in her shoes and share what I think she would ask if she had the courage. I have been right, I offer the help, she says "yes" and things surge forward for her a bit. You have a friend like this too and you can do the same.
Here's another example - totally true. When Bill and I decided to get married, I asked him a question that changed our lives. Here's the question:
- If you could live anywhere and be doing any kind of work, where would you live and what would you be doing?
I love this question and recommend that you ask your significant other this question tonight. Bill said he'd like to have his own consulting company (he's a geologist) in Seattle. We lived in New Mexico at the time. My response - "why don't we do that," and the rest is history. We have been living in Seattle for 8 years and his consulting business is thriving. This conversation put focused actions into motion. I got a job at Amazon.com (I needed a real job while he took time to build his company) and four weeks after we got married the relocation began. Bill resigned from his stable state job he had held for 10 years. We dove into the unknown.
Here's the funny part - I had never been to Seattle before we decided to move there - never been to the northwest. It did not really matter because I could see this was a dream of his and I had confidence he would not be attracted to a lousy place. The first time I touched Washington soil was for the interview with Amazon.com.
Would we have moved to Seattle one day anyway? Perhaps, who knows. Did it happen much more quickly because of the reverse request - absolutely. Here's the point - Bill had it in his head, probably for years, that he would like to live and work in Seattle. Your friends and family have dreams too, and I bet some would surprise you.
When you can make something BIG happen for something else - BAM! - that's cool and feels great.
Proofing this post, I am sensitive to the fact that this may seem like a pat on the back for me - please, don't take it that way. We can all make a big difference by using reverse requests. I like to share my real life examples to make the concepts more concrete.
Reverse requesting is a tool we can use to help catalyze breakthroughs - it's a way we can help and serve others.