Monday, February 13, 2012

The Difference Between a Request and a Demand

Have you ever considered the question, "What is the difference between a request and a demand?" While in both cases the person making the request or the person making the demand, wants someone else to do something, my personal experiences of both having received requests and demands, has led me to the conclusion that the two are very different propositions, and if we are in agreement, that requests and demands, are in some way qualitatively different, then I would suggest that this insight may be useful to illuminate much of our daily social interactions.

What is the difference between a request and a demand? I submit that a true request is an invitation, while a true demand is a mandate. The request is an invitation, by the person making the request, to in some way invite someone else, to add to their joy; to share with them in fun, joy and/or life (which I suppose I mean to say, a sharing in/of any of the basic/universal human needs). A demand on the other hand, is not an invitation; it is a mandate. A demand suggests that the one who demands, wants the person demanded of, to perform a certain function, and if that person demanded of, chooses not to perform the demanded action, then some repercussion, initiated by the one making the demand, will occur.

The request takes the form of, "Would you like to go with me to see a movie?"

While the demand takes the form of, "You WILL go to the movies with me (or I will be mad at you)."

A true request has no implicit conditional attached to the non-performance of the request. A denial of the true request, would not result in anger, or unusual disappointment, sadness, or threats. If one says, "Would you like to go with me to the movies?" and if the one requested of, replies with a declination, the one who "requested" would not respond, "Well if you won't go with the movies with me, then I won't help you move furniture tomorrow (as we previously agreed)." In this case, the form of request was used, but a demand was given.

So while the distinction may be subtle in practice, we may rest assured, that the key element in determining the difference between the requests of others and the demands of others, is what response they may have, if we decline the request/demand. Do they thank us for considering their request? Do they try to make alternate suggestions/requests to share in life/joy?


Do they become angry? Do they attempt to make us feel guilty? Do they try to manipulate us by suggesting that this decision will affect the future relationship? Do they make threats of violence?

All of these latter responses, are sure signs that we are not dealing in requests, we are dealing with demands.

Ultimately, the only way to truly know if we are dealing with requests or demands, is to decline, and observe the reaction....

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