“Ask, and you shall receive.” Sounds good – but how do I ask? Many times we may ask for things, but if we don’t know how to ask, we tend to get shot down and get less than we want. Following these steps will empower you to ask by creating a context or framework that will support your request. While there are no guarantees, with practice, using this approach will provide greater success.

  1. What is/are your commitment(s)? It may be your commitment, and even stronger could be a shared commitment. For example, “we are committed to providing extraordinary customer service and having our business be successful.”
  2. Given this commitment, what’s not working? What’s the breakdown? What is the problem, issue, concern, worry, frustration, etc. that fundamentally is inconsistent with the commitment? Be concise.
  3. What are the facts? Just the facts – nothing else. Provide objective information about what’s not working. If possible, provide data, charts, etc. Give verifiable information on what’s so, on what happened.
  4. What is the impact? Provide insight as to how this breakdown is affecting you, others, the organization, customers, etc. Try to create a picture of the ripple effect of the breakdown.
  5. The usual tendency is to examine what’s wrong. But this only leads to blaming and accusations. Instead, look deeper for what’s missing? What could be added that would make a difference? It’s like adding salt to a bowl of soup – it makes the difference! There are three areas to examine for what’s missing.
    a. What’s missing in terms of mindset, attitude, thinking, or ways of being?
    b. What’s missing as far as actions or behaviors?
    c. What’s missing as structures for accountability and/or support?
  6. The creative part is to now describe what’s possible? What could it be like if what’s missing were implemented? What new results could be possible? This should be something that inspires you. This completes the context or framework for stating your request.
  7. Now, state your request. Use the SMART acronym. Be clear and specific. It should be measurable. Identify the actions needed, and the resources required. Indicate the time frame.
  8. Finally, negotiate an agreement. Do you accept my request, or do you have a counter offer? Continue to work towards agreement.

Ruben J Guzman, MPH, 2010