The Confident Way to Ask People for Things That Will Get Their Compliance Without Coming Off Like a Wimp

January 27th, 2021

Have you ever paid attention to the way you ask people for things? Whether it’s at a store or in your personal life, how do you form your requests? Do you say, “Can I get a pack of whatever?”

If so, have you ever thought about what you’re really communicating when you ask for things in this way and also considered how you’re being perceived and received by the recipient? These are important considerations to make and I want to tell you why...

When we ask “Can I … ?”, what are we really communicating to the other person? And is it something we really want to convey?

Aren’t we essentially asking them for their permission to grant us the request? Aren’t we placing the power in their hands? Now isn’t it up to them to decide whether or not they comply with our request? Isn’t it up to them whether or not we get what we want?

But is this a position we really want to be in? Do we want the decision to get what we want to rest in the hands of the other person and be at their whims and fancies? Do we want to place ourselves in a position where they can reject our request?

I’m guessing not – so stop asking for things by saying “Can I …?”

It will just make you come off spineless, weak and wimpy, and you don’t want that, do you?

So what do we do instead?

How do we frame our requests so that they come off powerful and confident and not like we’re looking for people’s permission and approval to get what we want?

Think about yourself for a moment...

You’ve had people ask you for things by asking “Can I …?”, haven’t you?

How did it make you feel? And furthermore, what did you conclude about the other person’s level of confidence in them self? Did it make you receptive to granting their request? Or did it give you the impression that declining them was now an option for you? Didn’t they essential introduce the choice to reject their request into the interaction by asking you “Can I … ?”?

And if this is how we respond to others asking for things – by seeking to get your permission – is it not safe to conclude that this is exactly how other people react when we do the same thing?

But back to the solution...

Instead of asking people for permission to grant you your request, why not ask for their consent instead? Or why not simply make your desires known and let them comply once you’ve made them known?

What does this mean? And how do you do it?


Just frame your requests with the words “Would you … ?” instead of “Can I ... ?”

Would you get me a pack of whatever?”

Would you do me this favor?”

Now what are you doing? And how is this different than asking them “Can I … ?”

Like I mentioned, now you’re asking them for their consent – not their permission! You’re seeking their compliance rather than their approval in granting the request.

It’s only a slight change of words, but what you’re conveying by making that change communicates something significantly different.

An alternative to seeking their consent is to make your desires known. You’ll find compliance generally follows this approach. Instead of asking “Can I get a pack of whatever,” say “I’d like a pack of whatever.” Again, you’re not asking them for their permission, which gives them the option to deny your request. Instead, you’re framing it in terms of your desires, which almost always results in them complying with your wishes.

So stop asking “Can I … ?” when asking for things!

Instead remember these simple phrases:

“Would you … ?”


“I’d like …”

Making these changes into how you structure your requests will cause others to perceive you as more powerful and confident in yourself, and not like you walk on eggshells and worry about whether or not people will give you what you want. Plus, you’ll generally get what you want without objections or hesitation.


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