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When we ask someone to do something it can be frustrating why they didn’t do it the way we wanted. It’s as if they deliberately did it their way instead of your way. You can explain everything but until the other person understands why the results will struggle to meet your expectations.

I have been on the receiving end of this scenario. When I was a boy, my brother and I stayed with relatives who lived on a farm. One day my aunt told us we were going on a hike through the woods on their property and that we should wear our swimming suit under our jeans. As a boy, that didn’t make any sense to me. I understood that we should wear jeans so we didn’t get our legs scraped up through the brush. It was a hot day and I didn’t want to be even hotter with a swim suit under my jeans, so I just wore the jeans. During our hike we came to a creek and my aunt said, “take off your jeans and go swimming boys!”

When we ask someone to do something, we usually have it all figured out in our mind. We need to remember that who we ask doesn’t know what we know. The other person will either consciously or sub-consciously try to figure out the purpose.

When you ask someone to do something for you:

  • Start by explaining the purpose. Put yourself in their shoes. It takes time and energy for the other person to figure out the purpose of your task. Make it clear what you want to accomplish.
  • Offer ideas. Your plan may not be the best plan. Many times you have an idea about how to accomplish the task. Offer suggestions about how the other person might accomplish the result you are looking for.
  • Allow the other person to do it their way. We often think the way we think something should be done is the best way. I’ve found that most of the time my way is not best. If the other person understands what you want to accomplish they will figure it out their way. You may be surprised how much better they will do.
  • Shut up and stay out of their way. Don’t go checking in to make sure they are doing it right. Trust that they will accomplish the result and accept that if they don’t it is probably because you didn’t explain “why” well enough.

That hot summer day I w