Appropriateness of your demand matters in most social and professional settings. What you demand and in which situation – is an important aspect of your personality. It shows how capable you are to handle a situation, especially awkward ones. If you ask for a very simple thing but in a situation where it becomes socially embarrassing – people will frown at you. On other occasions, not asking for something might be inappropriate as well. So, asking or not asking for something, appropriately or inappropriately, matters a lot on your understanding of the situation. It is a social skill that one needs to develop properly. It is a matter of social learning that cannot be ignored.

Not the kind of demand that we put forward but also the circumstances when we do that matter. Asking for a piece of sweet at a time when the other person has just received bad news is incongruous. But not asking for sweets when the person has received good news is also unfitting since s/he might feel we don’t share her/his happiness. It’s just a piece of candy or a gulab jamun, asked for or not asked for in different situations, that may put us in an embarrassing position. An employee cannot demand a pay rise when the company is incurring a loss.

How one requests something is another issue. If one is asking for a favour, certainly there cannot be an order or command. It has to be a request, a pleading. The use of words, body language, tone and manners should be appropriate to the request. On the other hand, if one has to give an order, there should be no doubt in the mind of the other person about it. Sometimes a boss’s instructions are not followed by staff members, as the softly spoken instructions might be misunderstood merely as intentions. ‘Should we complete the work by tomorrow evening?’ might be a directive instruction in the employer but the employee might consider it just a question. Now, it becomes awkward both on the part of the employer and employee that such a situation arises out of miscommunication. We might learn with time the style of a person, how s/he makes a request, how s/he gives guidance and how s/he dictates terms, but till then, having clear communication is important to save ourselves from faux pas.

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