Conscious Communicator Tip #40:Should a Boss Ask Their Direct Report”Can You Do Me a Favor?”

“Can you do me a favor?”

Actually, I’m not asking you for a favor.

This is a statement my wife overheard her boss asking one of his direct reports yesterday.

She came home asking me if a boss should ask someone they supervise “to do them a favor” if that favor is really a job responsibility this employee should be performing within the job description.

We had an interesting discussion around this.

She thought, and I agreed, that a boss needs to use more specific direct language when giving direction to their subordinates.

We also agreed that the boss’ specific, direct language should be respectful and congenial in these situations, but asking for a favor is way too deferential.

Asking for a “favor” in this context sets the precedent that what is being requested is the boss’ responsibility and this is a one-time request for help.

What needs to be communicated is that this is a task the subordinate needs to fulfill within a certain prescribed timeframe and is something they continue to see as their responsibility for their role.

Language the boss should use is more like, “I need you to do XXXXXX and ensure its completed by YYYYYYYY.”

The respectful and deferential approach to this request would be something like, “I need you to do XXXXX and I’m wondering if you can complete it by YYYY.”

With this language you’re directly requesting the job to get done while respecting their other priorities and negotiating a time frame for completion, offering the subordinate autonomy over how and when they complete it.

If you’re not getting the results you want from your people, its because of your language, which is often non-specific and non-direct.

That’s why I’ve created Revolutionary Leadership Coaching. If you’d like to get better results from those you lead, I’d like to recommend a Revolutionary Leadership Strategy Session, you can learn more and apply for one at

’til next time, remember that communicating with specificity is power!


P.S. If you’d like help communicating to motivate your staff I encourage
you to sign up for a FREE Revolutionary Leadership Strategy Session at: