Be Careful What You Ask!!

Mike said to his son, “Jason, would you like to help me wash the car?”

Jason replied, “No, not really.”

Mike, a little miffed, responded, “Well, that’s too bad.  Help me anyway.”

Later I mentioned to Mike that Jason absolutely and quite truthfully answered the question that he was asked.  Did Mike want him to lie and say, “Oh yes, Dad!  I was HOPING you would ask me to help.  I’d LOVE to help!  I LIVE to help you.”  Did he want that?

Many parents might respond, “Well, yes.  Actually, that would be great!”

Well, it might be great – but it’s not realistic.

Consider this: To the question that he was asked, Jason was truthful.  Mike could have responded, (without anger and frustration) “I understand you might not want to. I might not want to either if I was in your shoes – and – I’m asking that you jump in and help me anyway.”

Next time, maybe he’ll just simply say, “Jason, I need your help.”

From your motivational speaker on communication, Linda Larsen



Motivational Speaker Linda Larsen, CSP has been described by meeting planners and audiences as "hysterically funny," and "riveting." Known for her ability to connect on an authentic and emotional level with audiences, her spontaneous sense of humor, and her engaging and powerful stories, Linda is passionate about sharing ideas to help people live their finest, best, and most productive lives. Her riveting and true story of being kidnapped and held hostage at gunpoint by an escaped convict, and the strategies she used to escape, will give people the tools THEY need to rise above any of life's toughest challenges, to communicate more effectively with THEIR difficult person, and to find creative solutions to THEIR problems. To book motivational speaker, Linda Larsen: 941-927-4700

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  1. Thanks to Mike and Jason for the reminder of how children are often such great teachers when it comes to communication; your blog reminds me to make sure (both in my own mind and the words I use) that I’m clear about what I want before I ask for it and that I be present and open to listen to the responses I get. Thanks for the reminder Linda… I’m all too familiar with the trap Mike fell in to.

  2. I’ve certainly been down this road with my youngest son!  Sometimes it’s better not to give them a choice and instead thank them for what they’re about to do. I still laugh at a story Sam’s friend told me when they were in 4th grade and a substitute teacher walked in.  Since she didn’t know the kids names she asked him “What would you like to be called?” to which Trevor replied, “Susan”.  Needless to say the sub got very angry at his flippant answer.  Perhaps she should have phrased that another way? Just another fun motivational speaker story, eh?

  3. It also helps to say what you don’t want!  Sometimes, I need to vent to Frenchie about something that happened in my day and all I want him to do is listen and say ‘Wow’ or something.  He is so resourceful, he inevitably gives me solutions!  More than once I’ve had to say ‘Thank honey, I just need to vent though.  Not really looking for answers now.”   I know, it’s tough for him to be married to a motivational speaker!  Now after incidents that happen with him, I have to ask, ‘Hey – can I use that in a speech?’

  4. Right on folks! We are learning this with our seven-year-old. My husband gets upset when he starts a question with “Hey, Will, why don’t you….” and Will chooses not to – because Will always wants to choose the opposite of what we want him to choose.  And you can’t blame him. You have to tell him to do it. Why pretend to give him the choice if you really aren’t giving him the choice? 

  5. So agree with all of you. I’ve had this conversation with a business owner who “asked” her employee what she thought about mentoring another co-worker. Employee’s response, “I’ll think about it.” When the business owner was venting over the employee’s statement, I shared what you did Linda. The owner didn’t speak her truth — she wasn’t clear and she wasn’t honest about her intentions. It wasn’t an ask but a demand in disguise.

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