Do you think there is no difference between “being asked to do something” and “being told to do something”?

Think again.

In moments of heightened emotions and escalating tensions, it is crucial to approach communication with care. A common factor that intensifies such situations is the lack of understanding between being asked to do something and being told to do something. Let’s explore this difference and its significance.

In this blog, we will explore the difference between each approach, the consequences they bear, and find out which path is best.

Being Asked to Do Something

Have you ever been asked nicely to do something? It feels good to comply. Doesn’t it?

When we ask someone to do something for us, we do it with respect and a tone of partnership. This means we acknowledge our colleague’s right to make beneficial choices, and they could decline if they wanted to.

This approach – asking rather than telling – invites the other person to offer alternative solutions and opens doors for negotiation. So, request politely or use questions to ask for something from someone.

By adopting this approach, we promote understanding and create ground for mutually agreeable solutions. Making others feel cherished will also bring forth more willing cooperation resulting in a positive outcome.

Being Told to Do Something

Have you ever been told to do something and felt an immediate sense of resentment for the other person?

This is because a position of authority is assumed when telling someone to do something. This approach can sometimes even trigger high-conflict situations or lead to their escalation; why?

When you approach someone with a commanding tone, it can make them feel disrespected or diminished, leading to an anticipated reaction of resistance or defensiveness.

We must learn to navigate such situations and judge whether a direct order is necessary. If so, try to approach with caution.

Communication – A Powerful Tool

To de-escalate a conflict, communication is a powerful tool to be used. In an intense situation, approach it with respect and empathy. Doing so can change the problem from a heated argument to a positive resolution based on mutual understanding.

In her book, Simply De-escalate, Tiffanie Herring details why communicating is important for de-escalating crises. She also teaches non-verbal communication techniques as well as empathy and active listening.

The Right Path

Here are some tips extracted from Simply De-escalate to help you find the right path in conflict resolution:

Seek Common Ground

Searching for and identifying shared interests can help you work towards finding common ground. This way, you can create a sense of unity and find a solution that will benefit all conflicting parties.

Practice Active Listening

Active listening is an important component of effective communication. When you make eye contact, pay attention to the other person’s words, and try to validate their feelings, you can foster a sense of understanding – ultimately finding a solution.

Choosing the right path of conflict resolution in high-conflict scenarios is what we preach. Do not “tell” anyone to do anything; rather, “ask” them to help you.

Telling someone to do something exerts control and can inflame the conflict further. Asking your colleagues to do something (a favor) is how to cooperate and develop mutually agreeable solutions.

Simply De-escalate by Tiffanie Herring is an excellent guide to help you safely and successfully resolve all conflicts. It will provide you with all you need to know about conflict resolution and help you manage your emotions and diffuse others’ conflicts.