Day 9: demands vs asking

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Day 9: demands vs asking

The difference between asking and demanding is very simple:

Asking something means the other person has the right to say no.

You’d think with criteria like that it would be easy to know which one you’re doing. Within my family my mother in particular will ask me to do something with the expectation that I’ll just say yes. Regardless of what I’m doing, or even if I can do the thing in question. It’s frustrating and a symptom of conditional love.

Asking when you only allow one answer is being passive aggressive.

When I read the Art Of Asking by Amanda Palmer a big part of the book was an emphasis on the vulnerability you feel asking for something. Why? Because there’s a potential for rejection or just simply not getting what you wanted. Which is hard, but a fact of life. You can’t always have what you want. There’s a lyric by Frank Turner I like which goes “you won’t get everything you wanted, but you will get everything you needed“.

A thing I’m learning this year is your mind can be trained. I no longer buy into the “you can’t each m teach an old dog new tricks” idium. That’s a lazy dog.

I’m nearly 30. I’m done with a lot of things I associate with being “in my 20s”. I’ve been told in the past to ” prepare for the worse but hope for the best “. This has never sat well with me. Now I prefer to try and lower my expectations of any result. That way whatever comes out of it is what I have to deal with. I deal with now. Rather than planning (and trying to control) the future. That’s just another way of not being vulnerable. And nothing good or exciting comes from comfort zones.

In the book The Obsticle is the Way, Ryan Holiday looks at our modern relationship with rejection and looking at a negative asked as a negative vs the Stoic way of looking at the obstacle as a new path which life is presenting to us. Yes, this is hard. Yes I get angry and upset when I don’t get everything I want. But frankly, life would get pretty dull if I knew I could get everything I wanted without question.

Demands should be reserved for things that are deal breakers for you in life. Demands are your “line in the sand”. This will vary from person to person, but really, I think it should be reserved for something you actually need rather than want.

There’s a blurred line between demands and asking which comes into play which I think has caused¬†people (including me) to become confused.

If my dad asks me if I can take out the rubbish (for example). It’s pretty clear a “no” is a dick response on my part. Although I could say it. But you need to know and feel like you can say no. If you get asked loads of questions for little things which have an implied reply (or are one step away from a rhetorical question) you can almost feel habitually like you need to do things for people. Because that’s what your relationship with them has.

Asking is a really special thing. It tests the bond you have with another person. It takes an act of faith which tests us. It takes strength to do and currage to face. But people hate being vulnerable. It’s uncomfortable. It’s awkward. It’s not safe.

Even if you get the answer you want, you then need to change and make a thing happen.

I find this area of communication really interesting. I think it says a lot about the other person if you have to demand something rather than ask.

Asking takes respect. If someone asks me to do something for them and I don’t have time, energy, money or any other resource to do it there and then, that’s on me. That’s no reflection on them or what they’re asking me. And it’s important to remember that. I think it’s all too easy to forget that someone’s choices are a reflection of them and nothing to do with you.

I wouldn’t be close friends with anyone who demands too much of me. I’d prefer to be asked and allowed the freedom to pick my own choice. I guess it comes down to the whole “treat others as you’d like to be treated”.

Rant over. If you’re enjoying this blog, can you somehow let me know you’re reading. I’d love to know if you enjoy these and if so, what about them. Alternatively, you can just have a lovely weekend. Either way.

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Simon Caine is a comedian, author, podcaster, writer and social media manager. He's the host of the Ask The Industry Podcast (iTunes link) , writer of jokes for Twitter and teller of gags on the London comedy scene. He's also the person writing this and it is taking all his willpower not to make a "Simon Says" joke.
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