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May 28, 2007


Tom Freeman

Maybe it's also partly a way of allowing the speaker to deflect any blame for the request - "If it were just me, I'd give you it, but it's the system, dude! I need you to show some ID!"

I was sent on an entirely useless 'influencing skills' course last years, in which we 'learned' that there's a hierarchy of ways of making requests. From the weakest to the stongest, it goes:

I'd appreciate it if you'd do X.
I'd like you to do X.
I need you to do X.
I expect you to do X.
I want you to do X.
I insist that you do X.

(This knowledge has transformed my life, needless to say.)

Note that "I need" is the strongest one you could get away with without actually being the other person's boss/spouse/arresting officer.

Pernille Rudlin

Blame deflection definitely makes sense as a reason - in which case I am surprised we don't say this more in the UK as we love avoiding blame. And the fact that this has become part of a training course could explain why it has spread across the US. By the way I've just realised that the quote from You, Me and Dupree should have been "I need you to do _me_ a solid", which I think you'll agree is even more annoying because of its emphasis that a banal or tedious act is being requested as a personal favour.

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