Whether it’s a chance for more responsibility or a request for annual leave, making requests effectively in English is an important part of any English-speaking workplace. Ask in the wrong way and you can lose your chance of getting what you want or even make a bad impression on your colleagues so it’s vital to get it right. Follow these simple tips to make sure you get exactly what you want when you make a request in English.
People always resent being ordered around so make sure to avoid using imperatives when making requests. Saying, “Give me some time off” will never please your boss. Instead, start your request politely, for example, “I’d like to request some annual leave” or “I’d appreciate it if you could give me your feedback”.
Eliminate “I need”
Always talking about what you“need” can make you sound bossy and offensive because it shows that you think your needs are more important than other people’s. Use questions like “Could you please…?” and “Would you be able to…?” to sound more considerate and polite.
Even if you have an understanding boss, it’s best not to make assumptions about being allowed to do certain things. If you want to leave early, it’s much better to say “Would it be OK if I slipped out a bit early today?” than “I’m going to leave a bit early today”. Think of the consequences of your request and what you will do to make up for any inconvenience caused. For example, if you need to leave a little early, explain when you will make up for the work you’ve missed.
Steer clear of accusations
If your manager seems to have forgotten about your request, don’t accuse him or her of not doing the work by saying, “Where are those figures I asked for?” For a simple yet effective reminder, just say, for example, “I was wondering if you’ve had the chance to calculate those figures.” It’s a non-threatening way to remind your boss of something he or she promised to do.
Try a second time
If your manager has denied a request, it can be easy to just give up. Instead, check what the problems are with your request, explain clearly how you will solve them and then ask your manager to reconsider your request.
Remember, whenever you are making a request, considering how the other person will feel about it is a great way to guess how they will react. Think about the impact your request will have on the other person and bear in mind the tips above and you will be in a strong position to have your request granted.