Requests vs. Demands exercise

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Purpose: To help us explore the difference between why we do (or don't do) what we're asked.

Think about a time when someone asked you to do something and you didn't want to, but you did it anyway.

Write answers to these questions:

1. What did they ask you to do?

2. How exactly did they ask?

  • "extra" words (not part of what they wanted you to do)
  • tone
  • body language
  • were you reluctant? how did they react?

3. Why did you not want to do it? (needs)

4. Why did you decide to do it [anyway]? (needs)

5. How was your relationship affected over time?

Get together in pairs and talk about each person's situation, focusing on these questions.

Now, think about a time when someone asked you to do something, and you did it with no reservations at all; you were very happy to do it.

Write answers to the same questions (except 3)

Get together in pairs and talk about each person's situation, focusing on the questions, and why was their reluctance or bitterness in the first but not the second?


Whole group - what's different between the first situation and the second?

(in which did you experience more choice?)

(in which did you have more understanding/compassion for why they wanted it?)

When you ask someone to do something, if they agree what do you want their reason to be? (to meet their own needs)

What could you do to find out what their reasons are?

When someone asks you to do something, and you do it, what do you want your reasons to be?

What can you do when those are not your reasons?

Anything else interesting you noticed or learned from doing this?


Takeaways to mention if they haven't learned it themselves (or to emphasize if they have):

We have an intrinsic, natural need to contribute to others' well being.

Demand can trigger our need for freedom, masking our need to contribute.

Demand can be in the asking or in me.

(segues well into requests)