October 13, 2005
Armies spend endless hours training people to follow orders without question. It’s an essential quality in a soldier. In everyday life, however, things don’t work that way. Business, political, and civic leaders have learned that ordinary people will perform exceptional tasks when they are asked-not ordered-to do so. Even when you are managing other people, you will achieve far more if you convert every order to a request. Introductory phrases such as, "Would you mind . . ." or "Could I ask your assistance in . . ." or the always effective "Please . . ." will ensure success far more often than intimidating those who work for you. And when you need help from those whose paychecks you do not control, you will find them far more responsive to requests than to orders.