While we don’t often like hearing “No” in response to a request, it can be just as difficult to be the one turning someone down. However, if we say yes to someone too soon or too often, we can also get in trouble. So how can both parties feel satisfied dealing with a request that may initially seem unreasonable or impractical?

While a request may seem unrealistic, the person asking probably feels they have very good reasons for whatever they are asking for, but may not have articulated those reasons clearly, or even at all. For example, someone asking to switch departments may really want or need is to find a better way to manage a certain task, manager, or co-worker. By asking why they want what they are asking for, the underlying need can often be addressed and managed to the satisfaction of both parties, without necessarily giving them what they asked for or flat out saying no.

By asking why before we say no or even before we say yes, we are more likely to really understand the underlying need and avoid leaving the other person feeling hostile or frustrated.