Passive: “I was wondering if this was something you might like to read.”
Direct: “Will you please read this by 3:00pm today?”
Urgent: “You need to read this now!”
I’ve noticed that passive requests tend to become urgent requests. The lack of clarity from the outset leaves a void that only grows larger during the period of confusion and potential clarification. (And an unpleasant side-effect of this pattern is resentment, because I know you don’t enjoy my passivity turning into your urgency.)
It would be a whole lot easier if we were just direct with one another. (Hold on, that’s passive.)
Please make direct requests so your colleagues don’t have to guess what you want. (More direct. More clear.)
And, one last thing: If it’s urgent, don’t be shy. If it’s not, don’t say it is.
DAVID BERRY is the author of “A More Daring Life: Finding Voice at the Crossroads of Change” and the founder of RULE13 Learning. He speaks and writes about the complexity of leading in a changing world.