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3 Reasons to Give Orders as Requests

A recent study found that people are more productive when given requests instead of orders, even when the orders are coming from themselves. The study revolved around two modes of thinking: Will I vs. I Will. The group that used the “Will I” mindset outperformed the other group two to one.

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A recent study found that people are more productive when given requests instead of orders, even when the orders are coming from themselves. The study revolved around two modes of thinking: “Will I” vs. “I Will.” The group that used the “Will I” mindset outperformed the other group two to one.

The way you phrase a sentence can have a huge impact on the way your expectations are received. While some people can accept orders with grace, you’re probably increasing the likelihood of resistance when you choose to communicate in autocratic language.

By finding a less dominating way to package your orders, you’re able to communicate the exact same message in no uncertain terms without triggering people’s rebellious side. You can accomplish this by phrasing your orders in a way that creates the appearance of free choice, such as using the word “please” – or you can frame your order in the form of a question.

Below are 3 reasons to give requests, not orders:

1. Many people’s first instinct is to rebel against an order – If your employees are agitated, they’re expending valuable mental energy on their frustration rather than following your instructions. Isn’t it worth taking the time to frame your order in a way that dignifies the recipient?

2. Many people perform better when they feel in control of their decisions – If you’re mainly concerned with the end result, then use psychology to your advantage. People thrive when their independence has been respected (even though they’re aware the request is actually an order).

3. Many people misinterpret the intent behind the order – When most managers give orders, the focus is on clearly spelling out the expectations. The intent is good. It’s how the employee interprets the order that’s the problem (ie. He can’t respect me if he talks to me that way, etc.). However, requests are respectful by design, which allows employees to focus on what’s required of them without having to worry about deciphering any menacing subtext.