This is an entry that I’ve been meaning to write up for some time. It’s spurred by hearing a large number of people complaining about unreasonable requests. These requests have ranged from huge to tiny. Some of them would put the person to a great amount of trouble, while others would barely take them out of their way. So what determines if a request is reasonable or not? To which I would respond: There is no such thing as an unreasonable request.
This stance generally meets with uncertainty, until I point out that a request is, by nature, something that you can either accept or refuse. If you can’t refuse it it’s not a request, it’s a demand.
In other words, “There is no such thing as an unreasonable request, so long as ‘no’ is accepted as a reasonable response.”
Some requests are clearly people chancing their arm. You can say no. Some requests are people asking more than you can give. You can say no. Some requests are things that might seem reasonable but are difficult for you personally. You can say no. And some requests you can happily accede to. You can also say yes. It’s entirely your choice.
Following on from that I started wondering why some people get so worked up about “unreasonable requests”. Looking at what would make me worked up I came up with the following possibilities:
The request isn’t really a request.
Sometimes what’s claimed to be a request is actually emotional manipulation in disguise. It’s totally fair to be annoyed at these, both because it’s not on to emotionally manipulate people and because it’s claimed to be something it’s not.
The request has been repeated, without further clarification.
Someone requested you do something. You said no. They are now persisting, without offering any new evidence or explanation.
This is no longer a request. It’s turned into a demand. It might be reasonable to be annoyed by this, depending on how justified their demands are. Either way it’s moved on from being a request scenario. (Continued claims at this stage that it’s “just a request” would annoy me!)
You feel obliged to agree.
Sometimes someone to whom you owe a lot makes a request of you. Or maybe even you’re just the type who likes to be accomodating. Either way, the request has been made and it’s something you’re in no way happy to do, but you feel you “should” or “must”.
It’s still fair to be annoyed (hell, it’s *always* fair to be annoyed) but make sure your annoyance is directed to the right place. In this situation you’re annoyed at the fact that you feel you can’t say no. If the person making the request is perfectly okay with you saying no then this isn’t in any way their fault. Feel annoyed if you wish, but don’t direct it at them. In this situation they’ve done nothing wrong!
You just don’t want to do it.
Say no. Remember, that’s always an option! Don’t get annoyed about having to do something if you don’t have to do it.
The request was insulting, offensive, or crude.
I don’t think the issue here is the request. insulting, offensive or crude language is out of line. Insulting, offensive or crude actions are out of line. Insulting, offensive or crude requests are out of line. It’s not that the ‘request’ is unreasonable, it’s that the whole situation is unreasonable! Don’t put up with it.
So yeah, that pretty much sums up my attitude on requests, and is why I’m willing to ask big things of people, or even little things of strangers. If I make a request of you then I expect you to exercise your own judgement and say yes or no as you wish. And if you say yes? Well, I’m going to assume you mean yes.
Do you disagree? Let me know!
Can you think of other situations where people might get annoyed about requests? Let me know!
Just want to share an experience? Feel free 😀