Speaking Up Made Easy: 15 Ways to Ask For What You Really Want

Ever been in a situation where you needed to ask for something but didn’t want to sound pushy? This article explores 15 ways to request what you need without sacrificing politeness or respect.

“I Was Hoping You Could…”

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It’s easy to miscommunicate your meaning when you’re asking for something, especially if it’s something you’ve already had to follow up with several times. Saying, “I was hoping,” indicates your intentions that you expect the person to complete the task you need to be done.

This is appropriate either in a personal or a business context, such as the following:

  • I was hoping you could bring some snacks to the party tonight.
  • I was hoping you could forward that client email to me.

“Could You Please…”

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Short and simple, this phrase effectively conveys your request while remaining cordial.

A simple “please” goes a long way when being polite and courteous. Keeping your request brief is the best way to ensure your message is understood and communicates your expectancy that the task will be completed according to your request.

Here are some examples of how you can use this phrase:

  • Could you please wash the dishes?
  • Could you please print a copy of the receipt?
  • Could you please bring along the release form to the meeting?

“Is It Possible for…”

Maintains Openness
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This way of asking for something is very open-ended and serves as more of an inquiry than a request. In other words, this phrase puts an option on the table to say no. The person can either respond, “Yes, it is possible,” or “No, it is not possible.”

Giving someone a choice to decline the request is generally polite since it shows that you respect their time and will appreciate their answer either way. You could use this opener like the following examples:

  • Is it possible for you to forward me that email?
  • Is it possible for me to get those invoices from you by Thursday?
  • Is it possible for you to clean the countertops while I wash the dishes?

“I Was Wondering If You Could…”

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Another kind way to ask for something, adding, “I was wondering if” conveys your thoughts without seeming demanding. Instead of saying “Do X,” this kinder way of wording things again allows the hearer to decline if needed.

More likely than not, however, the person will want to follow through to demonstrate their commitment to fulfilling what you want where appropriate. Some examples of this phrase used are as follows:

  • I was wondering if you could give me a discount on this item.
  • I was wondering if you had a different color item than the one on display.
  • I was wondering if you could complete the paperwork by Tuesday.

“I’d Appreciate it If You Would…”

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Adding a sense of gratitude instead of presupposing the other person’s compliance goes a long way toward demonstrating kindness and consideration.

This phrase, quite simply, implies your appreciation for their help and indicates that the task is something you need to be done. Here are a few simple examples:

  • I’d appreciate it if you would help me with my homework.
  • I’d appreciate it if you’d be willing to partner with me on this project.

“If You’re Free, Could You…”

mil house
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Respecting someone’s time is a trademark gesture of kindness, and when you’re asking for a favor, staying respectful is much more likely to get you what you want.

Asking if someone is free is a simple way of acknowledging that they have other things to do and that you would appreciate them taking time out of their day.

  • If you’re free, could you swing by Thursday to help me move this couch?
  • If you’re free, could I borrow you to help me install this sink?
  • If you’re free, would you give me a ride to the airport?

“Please Give Me X When You Have a Moment”

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It pays to be direct about what you need if you’re requesting something. Simply asking what you need and adding a please is a great way to convey your intent without seeming too abrupt or curt. Adding “when you have a moment” also demonstrates respect for their time.

  • Please give me your attention when you have a moment.
  • Please send me the blueprints when you have a moment.

“Would You Please…”

mom move
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When you’re asking for something, simplicity is the best principle. The phrase “would you please” has everything you need: a simple request and the magic word “please.”

  • Would you please take out the trash?
  • Would you please walk the dog?

“Kindly Do X When You Can”

Heart Flutters
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Asking someone for a favor can often feel demanding, but as long as you stay considerate of their time and interests and don’t make unreasonable requests, they will respect your intentions.

Asking someone to “kindly do X” is a simple request that reminds them how appreciable the favor would be.

Adding “when you can” helps alleviate the request’s pressure and allows the person to complete the task when they have the time.

  • Kindly do the tax forms when you can.
  • Kindly mop the floor when you can.
  • Kindly set up the computer when you can.

“Can I Ask You to Do X?”

The Excitement
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Although it may seem redundant (and it is, to some degree), asking whether you can ask a question makes the implied question seem less forceful and more considerate. It’s essentially saying, “Would it be appropriate for me to ask this?”

Again, this kind of way of asking for something allows the other person to decline or to suggest an alternative if they find the request disagreeable.

  • Can I ask you to do those layouts by tonight?
  • Can I ask you to print me 30 copies of this document?
  • Can I ask you to stack the chairs after the meeting?

“If You Have a Moment, Can You…”

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Another phrasing that you can use to demonstrate appreciation for someone else’s time is “If you have a moment.”

It helps to cut back on the immediacy of the request and makes it easier for them to either say, “Yes, I can do that for you now,” or “No, but I’ll get to it later.”

  • If you have a moment, can you email a copy of the client’s paperwork?
  • If you have a moment, can you set up the mixer for me?

“Please Let Me Know If You Can…”

Hey Girlie!
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Another helpful way to make a request is by asking whether they can do something. Rather than saying, “Do this for me,” please let me know and puts the ball in their court to respond accordingly. Additionally, if there are extenuating circumstances, they can let you know.

  • Please let me know if you can file that report by Monday.
  • Please let me know if you can have the designs finished today.

“I’d Be Grateful If You Could Do X for Me”

Wear Red
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Expressing gratitude for someone’s help before and after they’ve helped you is a great way to ask for something. Whether it’s asking for a literal object, a favor, or a task, a little gratitude goes a long way.

  • I’d be grateful if you could issue an extension for me.
  • I’d be grateful if you could finish the repair by today.

“I’d Like You to Give Me X”

Be Sincere 1
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Keeping it simple is often the best way to get what you need and ensure there’s no confusion in something that gets lost in translation. Saying “I’d like you to do X” or “I’d like you to give me X” clearly signals your intent that they’ll complete a task for you.

Being direct isn’t rude; you can use this phrasing when you need something done sooner rather than later.

  • I’d like you to please return the ladder you borrowed a week ago.
  • I’d like you to give me a moment of your time.

“Can You Do X at Your Earliest Convenience?”

Mentally distancing yourself
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Adding a gesture of convenience can help keep the conversation civil while making your request clear. The phrase “at your earliest convenience” gives the other person the flexibility to complete the task or fulfill the request without pressure.

  • Can you do the laundry at your earliest convenience?
  • Can you work on the spreadsheet at your earliest convenience?


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