If we are direct in our communication, we are more likely to get the results we seek.
Understanding what we want
To be direct, we must understand clearly what we want. We have to think a little more to be direct. Without this clarity, we won’t be able to get to the direct requests in our communication. After all, how do we ask for what we want if we don’t know what we want?
Sharing context is important for explaining why we are making a direct request. This will give confidence to the one we are making requests to that their effort in fulfilling our request will be worth it.
But imagine that we just get context without a request. In the end, all one might say is, “That’s nice. It’s interesting you feel that way.” Perhaps the most proactive listener will infer some potential request out of the context sharing, but it’s not likely.
If we’d like someone to do something, and it seems reasonable that we would ask, we should ask them. Without the request, there is no invitation and the desired action and outcome are unclear.
The request invites action toward a known end.
An example in a pull request
s in essence a request. We want the code we submitted for review to be merged into the main codebase. The action requested, by convention, is pretty clear.
Review comments on pull requests (PR) are notorious for vagueries and lack of clear requests. The PR submitter can often be wondering, “What should I do to adjust this PR so that it will suit you?”
Thus, when reviewing a PR and offering comments, we can be just as direct as we mean to be. We can decide what we really want, share the context of why and ask directly.
If we want to prompt thought, we say simply that: “Will you think about…”
If we want something specific to change, we should point it out directly: “Will change this so that…”
If we don’t know what something means, we should ask for help: “Will you help me understand…”
All of these are questions. They are requests. They are direct. They will help the PR progress.
In what other applications have you found that direct requests bring better results?