The key idea is to put your needs into words that are clear, not attacking, and ask for specific behavioural change.

It is best to use a small number of sentences, 2 or 3, that are very clear and precise. The more you elaborate, explain and justify yourself, the more resistance you will run into.

‘Making a simple request statement’ involves 4 core components:

A brief justification – Explain in one sentence what the problem is. Keep it simple.

A softening statement – This establishes you as a reasonable person who is polite and nondemanding. Softening statements often start like this (e.g. “Would you mind if …”, “It would be helpful if you could …”

A direct, specific question – Say what you want clearly and exactly. Keep any emotional charge out of your voice that could imply blame or imply that anything is wrong with the other person Say it in a flat, matter-of-fact way.

An appreciation statement – This will reinforce the other person saying yes to you. It makes them feel that you value what they are doing (e.g. “This will really help me out”, “Thanks for your effort with this”).

Work with the client to put these components together into complete request statements based around simple scenarios, such as in situations interacting with strangers in public (e.g. In a train: “I’ve got a long trip, would you mind moving your bag off the seat so I can sit down? Thanks so much for that”.

Build up to more challenging scenarios such as making requests of a teacher, a health professional, a friend, or an official in the Centrelink Office when there is no pre-existing tension. Encourage the client to practice at least one request per day.

Explore an intimate relationship scenario in the client’s own life in which s/he is feeling uncomfortable, where there is tension, but is not yet clear about what s/he wants. Work together to formulate some sentences that s/he feels s/he could use to communicate what s/he wants to the other person. Do a role play where you act as the other person and test out some different responses. Give feedback to the client to help improve the skill of their delivery. Plan the context and time that is best to make the request. Gain a commitment to make the request in reality by a particular date shortly before you expect to see the client again.