"Do what you are told!"

None of us like to be told what to do; we prefer to understand what needs to be done and why and to be part of the decision making.


Have you ever heard yourself say ‘Do what you are told!” or “You need to do…”

Of course, we all have!

And how effective are these demands?

More often than not, not very.


Why don’t demands work?

When we hear a demand, regardless of our age or where we are when we hear it; at work, home, school, in social settings, we are likely to shut down and not co-operate. We like to make our own decisions or feel part of decision making; autonomy is a fundamental need.

Sometimes demands do lead to co-operation…but usually because we are worried about what the other person will think of us if we don’t... or because a punishment is the other option... or just because it is easier to do it than argue over the ‘why not’.

Either way, demands feel uncomfortable.

That is why requesting co-operation – through the language we use – is a more comfortable, effective and all round better option.


So, what is the difference? The difference is in language we use and how we ask (and you know me, I am a stickler for language!)

Demands Requests

You need to Are you willing to try for 5 minutes/ sit with me etc.

Go outside now It is time to go outside

Do it now In 2 /5 minutes we will start x,y,z/go inside etc.


Why does it matter?

Having demands made of us does not feel comfortable. Why? because us humans need to

feel heard, to feel appreciated and to be connected to the other person that we are in dialogue with.

When a demand is made, a power shift happens, and the ‘demander’ is in power. So, by simply changing how we ask for co-operation creates a power balance and gives both parties an opportunity to meet their needs.


Give it a go, it takes practice and soon it will be your new response in the tricky moments!