The NVC model: step 4, Requests

Action to meet needs

Requests in  NVCTM/NbC are specific and do-able. Asking for something vague which the other person can’t give you is not effective, and usually ends with both parties feeling more frustrated. “I want you to be nice to me” is basically meaningless as a communication and  “Kindly stop being so inconsiderate!” can sound more like an insult than a request.  It’s more effective as well as more respectful to give the other person something concrete to work with, within a defined time frame.  A clear request sounds like, Would you help me clean the kitchen sometime this afternoon?” or “Would you listen for 5 minutes while I tell you why I got upset this morning?” If you want to ask for something big, consider breaking it up into stages to make it more do-able.

There’s one other really important distinction between needs-based requests and conventional ones. A request is not the same as a demand. We don’t have any right to expect that a specific other person will meet our needs in the way we would like. And in fact, unless we are on a power trip, we don’t even want them to meet it unless they want to, out of their own needs, such as a wish to support or contribute or exchange. It has to be open for all parties if we are all going to thrive. A quick test of this is:  If we’re not prepared to hear a ‘no’, then it’s not a request, it’s a demand.

Very often, and especially in a charged situation, the first type of request to make is a connection request: for example, to sit down and talk about something, for the other person to share how they feel about something, or to echo back what they have heard us say.  If this is granted, and a connecting exchange results, then one can follow up later with an action request: to share the household tasks next week, or to spend Sunday morning doing something with the children, etc.

The request stage is where we start to look for strategies and solutions. It works well when it follows on from and emerges out of an awareness of the first three steps.

* In NbC, I call this stage ‘Action’ rather than Request. Having connected with my Feelings and Needs, I can often take my own steps to meet them without any further support from outside. Even if I do want to make a Request, I see that as a specific subset of Actions. Requests are great, and so is having support from others, but ‘taking Action’ independently can often be more convenient and more empowering.

Go back to the previous step : Needs
Go to NVC model overview