Make Clean Requests

In this week’s vlog, I reflect on an experience I had a few weeks ago and the important lesson it taught me that feels especially relevant as we head into the holiday season.

Comments

  1. Margo

    Managing expectations is the basis of having positive experiences!

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  2. Jean A Campbell

    This is an INCREDIBLE vlog, and it is exactly what I needed to hear today! I realize that almost all of my personal conflicts have been around my own inability to make “clean requests”. I thought I was being “humble”. Instead, I was really being dishonest, both with myself and with others, and it has hurt many of my relationships.
    Thank your for your love, and thank you very much for today’s vlog!

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    1. Nancy W. Goss

      Such a simple way in which to define boundary setting which honors both the initiator as well as the recipient. I love it!!!

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    2. Bob Gibson

      Excellent blog today. They are all great and meaningful, but this one really hit home. I thank Susan for her sharp clarity, and the fine points that can make all the difference in the world to out relationships and life. I am feeling Grateful… This is so Good !

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  3. Jon

    Thanks so much for sharing your info ; so informative and sometimes eye-opening !

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  4. Emily in MT

    I love your message about making clean requests. Excellent advice anytime of the year. But the part about your “friend” could be called Making Excuses for Other People. It’s clear that you’re not on his A list, and probably not even on his B list.

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  5. Nancy

    Ughhh. Good idea to make a clear request of your friend. yes we all get that he “adores and really cares about you”. But i’d rather have someone show some respect to me. This is a given to let someone know if you’re going to be around. Jeez. Dump him. It’s been 7 years of this bullshit.

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  6. Ann Holley

    Hi Susan, Thank you for this invite into making better relationships. I will take this with me to the next social gathering and my next conversation with my husband. I am going to forward this to him. warm regards, Ann

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  7. Susan

    Great blog. I plan on using this Thank you!

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  8. Nicole B

    I am not a Brightliner, but I find your vlogs so insightful, I come back every week. I needed this lesson about clean requests, and attachment to outcomes. Thank you very, very much.

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  9. Roberta Walters

    Ow dear Susan you have solved my life’s problems with this one!!!! I love your hair BTW thank you for being you!!! May we all learn to be clear and stressed less. 😉

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  10. cynthia spanier

    Susan you are married he is treating you like a mistress!

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  11. Cilla

    I love this!
    I am so good at expecting people to be able to read my mind and then get offended when they don’t!!!
    Time to learn to state my wishes. I’m not good at that at all.

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  12. Leslee

    This brought such clarity on how to handle all kinds of situations! Thank you for this simple, but not always easy skill! I’m going to start practicing it right now!

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  13. H

    I would rather avoid a scene by not going to family dinners where all they eat are carbs, unless I bring a tray of raw veggies. You’re right that they probably don’t know that it’s difficult to see all the foods I won’t be eating because I’m a “carboholic”. They will just laugh at me for being so rigid that I can’t “cheat” once in a while. Thanks for talking about this subject. I like the “Hey, would you do me a favor and ….” line and will try to incorporate it next time I feel a confrontation coming on.

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  14. Annette

    Thank you thank you thank you!!!! I am so bad at making my wishes and expectations known and then get all disappointed and my tiny feelings get hurt. This was exactly what I needed to hear today. Thanks for explaining it so simply and succinctly. Hopefully practice makes perfect!!!

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  15. Lin

    Why are you responsible for his lack of common courtesy? I get the setting boundaries part of this, but where is his part of responsibility for the friendship? Seems like it is one sided.

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    1. Nat

      She is responsible at this point because she never told him her expectations of their friendship and communication. Now that she’s told him if it continues then its on her.

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      1. Viv

        No, if it continues, it’s on HIM. It’s always been on him., in fact. Why would she need to tell him her expectations? Her expectations are nothing out of the ordinary, just that he behave with common courtesy. Unless he was raised in the wild without human contact, the onus is on him to behave like a responsible adult.

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        1. Viv

          But I get it. There is a very large segment of the male population who have never felt that they need to consider anyone else’s feelings or time, that we (especially females) are all just going to be grateful they threw us any crumbs from their table. Ugh. So glad I removed those types from my life LONG ago.

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    2. Richelle

      I agree with Lin.. It’s kind of pathetic that you would need to tell this great friend who adores you how to show common courtesy and respect. . One has to wonder if he would stand you up if you set up a date to meet in person.. It seems like she was making excuses for his bad behavior; he obviously isn’t such a great friend if he treats her like he doesn’t care and her time doesn’t matter. I can’t believe that she has taken this mind of treatment from him for so long.. The ‘friendship’ seems very one sided..

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      1. Linda

        I agree with you and Lin. I responded before I had read your posts. Susan has, to me, clearly given this person many chances. Her willingness to go the extra mile for all of the BLE community is why we are so grateful to her but I think it is more than OK to let someone go who is consciously or unconsciously behaving in the manner in which this person is. It is not Susan’s fault.

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  16. Julia

    Hi Susan
    I usually love the vlogs. Today’s had a great message, but I found your language offensive.
    Most of the time I share the vlog or recommend you to my friends and family.
    Sorry not today.

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    1. Beki

      I agree, Julia, there’s no reason for that kind of language. I’m glad I didn’t watch this earlier while babysitting my 5 year old grandson! Very disappointing!

      Reply ·
    2. Susan Peirce Thompson

      Hi Julia,
      You might want to read my reply to Lynn (down below; she commented on October 28th, 2018); she had a similar comment and I replied at length.
      With love,
      Susan

      Reply ·
  17. Bridget

    Spot on , Susan. Letting go of the outcome that’s the hard part and the peaceful part.

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  18. Linda Wilkins

    I see a man who is passive-aggressive — you get to prove you care by putting up with it — waiting for him, etc.
    Irrespective of this, the connection to BLE is brilliant. Thanks.

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  19. Deb

    I love your vlogs but using the F word is offensive.

    Reply ·
    1. Susan Peirce Thompson

      Hi Deb,
      Lynn down below (her post was from 10/28) had a similar comment and I replied to her at length. Just FYI.
      With love,
      Susan

      Reply ·
  20. Stefi

    Love the holiday clear requests part. I know someone like this male professor, he thinks too highly of HIMSELF in ALL SORTS OF WAYS. Slap him down & mean it as you are far too kind. He cant keep a phone call appt going forward OH WELL FOR HIM,… YOU are a seriously busy lady!!

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  21. Debbi Dunkley

    Oooohhhhh, such clarity! I love it. And i love the blue dress and background. It all helps point to the point! My skill in this area is infantile but is so needed. The stuffing of feeling is far more impactful on my willpower than any routines or decisions!!!!! Thank you and so excellently explained and taught…..wonderful teacher

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  22. Debbi

    I am a caring person who is often late, doesnt return calls, etc. It is my struggle and brain wiring. I would love it if people would communicate like this with clear expectations rather than stuff it or write me off. I wrestle with executing priorities and greatly appreciate friends who understand this. Many of the comments here are making judgement and go beyond “just the facts”, and put intention and motive to your friends behavior. Your approach let’s him be free . And, Oh yes, perhaps even more impactful with out the f word!

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    1. Susan Peirce Thompson

      Hi Debbi,

      Thank you for your comment. I think it presents a nice counterweight to some of the other comments. I’m the only person here with anywhere close a full (ish) perspective on the friendship, and honestly my heart hurts a bit at the tenor of some of the comments.

      I wish I had waited to shoot this video until AFTER I had spoken with him. I was still pretty mad when I shot this video. Turns out on that day he was called away for a meeting that he assumed would be brief so he didn’t bring anything, including his phone…and it turned into a 2-3 hour emergency situation. The meeting started 90 minutes before our call time, and went for over an hour after our call time. He was stuck in there with the top brass (including his boss) for all that time. He couldn’t text me. That said, I still expressed my clear request, and he heard me. Time will reveal whether my requests change his behavior, and I’ll be fully at choice at any and all points in the future to reevaluate my participation in our friendship.

      Isn’t it funny how we’re so aware of the REASONS for our bad behavior (traffic, puking kids, delayed planes, and the like) and forget to spin scenarios about the (potential) reasons for other people’s bad behavior? In psychology this is called the “Fundamental Attribution Error”… and it’s so, so common.

      Much love,
      Susan

      Reply ·
  23. Karen

    I am glad you are starting to talk about the holidays, I am actually not at all worried about my friends and family pressuring me or making any comments to me about my food. I am just concerned that my mindset will change and I will start feeling left out and deprived .This is my challenge, I never know what sets it off either. I have failed so many times that I just can never see how it will be different. Thanks so much for your vlogs and I love your new hair !!

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  24. Claire

    Hmmm…I had mixed bag response to this one Susan…Where we live (in the west) our relationship to time is so different. It is not that time is not valuable-but navigating its tyranny-with poor cell or no cell service is just part of the deal…the cows get out, the horse is colicking, the kids bus is late, flat tire- out of gas, construction, other phone calls, people dropping by… In other words…just life.

    We jokingly call it “Valley Time”…and “real time” . I actually pine for the days when cells had something to do with blood-and we just went with the best laid plans we could muster :). Being so tightly scheduled and grabbing every moment to fill with something is its own form of setting ourselves up for disappointment…there is the EXPECTATION that everyone will not only be able-but willing- under any circumstances-to get in touch with us at a moments notice over anything…not the issue herein this vlog mind you-but the mind set might be?? We all tend to focus our lives around our livelihood (probably a pretty good thing!), and our crisis management. Having some choice over our employment venue and our forms of “crisis” is helpful-but not always reality.

    Perspective that schedules change, reality shifts, folks die, get terribly injured, loose loved ones, or just are overwhelmed is a compassionate place from which to initially respond…then also reminding ourselves that the gift of friendship can come in all versions and we only have control over our own responses is of course-the crux of the vlog. Perhaps the mutual assessment of connection is very different and actually-the communication glitch is a common male/female version of focus and priority..and probably has little to do with the feelings it brings up.
    That yammered on…
    I love this saying…”If you do not tell people how their behavior affects you-you deny them a chance to change.”…clear requests….another good way of saying this and perfecting our communications-which is always a blessing as we strive for middle ground.

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  25. Nancy

    Second request: PLEASE watch the cleavage. It is not professional and most distracting from our message.

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    1. Bonnie Fisher

      Really? Your kidding, right? Susan, you look just fine and very professional. Cleavage? Barely there (don’t take that the wrong way)!

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    2. Celene gohsman

      Wow, a womans cleavage bothers you….. ok?

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    3. Emily

      Policing and shaming another woman’s body? Now *that’s* distracting. And also tiresome. It’s 2018 for goodness sakes.

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  26. Ariann Thomas

    Excellent. Great Communication skills are critical to healthy relationships. It is really difficult to look at ourselves and see where we need to get clarity to make those request without drama and emotional triggers.

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  27. Christine

    Thank you so much! I love listening to your vlogs ❤❤

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  28. Anita

    This. Is. A. Gem. I need to speak up about my needs, desires and preferences. Be clear so that both I and others can be comfortable. I love this. Thank you.

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  29. Sue Zak

    The invaluable nugget of truth that I took from this excellent Vlog is that by being clear and clean in your communication regarding a request, you gain peoples trust in you. i.e. When you are frank and honest and say “No” to a behavior then that person now knows they can trust when you say “Yes”.
    I guess I am so programmed with the social lubrication of little untruths that we let slip by and by the dishonesty that passes for politness that this is startling to me.
    You also gave excellent examples of how to make clear requests without being rude or hurtful. Honesty can be respectful and loving and you dont need to be untrue to yourself. Novel concept.
    Thank you so much.

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  30. Shanna

    I absolutely LOVE your vlog! Your suggestions, ideas and advice are relevant Seriously need to make “clean requests” in all facets of my life, not just as it relates to food and holidays. 😊
    Btw, purchased ‘Atomic Habits’ after last week’s vlog. Terrific book! Thanks for introducing me to James Clear.

    Reply ·
  31. Paul

    I drove 94 miles to teach an abused child a guitar lesson this afternoon. when I arrived, the mother of the child had baked me a
    beautiful CAKE . I could not offend her… I graciously accepted the cake, brought it home when I left… then upon coming home,
    I find this Vlog…. I’ll give it to a neighbor…. The lady was doing this , as a way of thanking me for helping her son… It will be
    hard to tell her, but seeing your Vlog, should make it a little easier. ( I haven’t unwrapped it; I don’t want to see it LOL
    I caught glimpse when her son handed it to me and it was very tempting and pretty .. PB

    Reply ·
    1. Silvia

      What a beautiful story, Paul. It´s amazing what you are doing with that child, and I think you have done exactly what you had to do accepting that cake… and giving it to your neighbour 😉

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    2. Linda Steele

      Paul,
      Your gracious acceptance of the sweet gift offered from her heart, filled with gratitude, was perfect! If she had offered up a big slab of it on a plate it may have proven much trickier, lol! As someone who loves to bake and share, I know the emotional significance on the part of the giver, and I hope to offer up the same sensitivity and grace as you did when I am confronted with a similar gift as I inevitably will be at some point. This will be my first holiday season doing BLE. I am determined to come out with my bright lines intact and relationships with my friends and family strengthened. I remind myself frequently that it’s not about the food! Our peace of mind and being kind and respectful, while protecting our boundaries is the goal. Thank you for your fine example!

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  32. Janet

    So you need to tell this “friend” to have basic courtesies? Mmmmm no. Sure — you can try and some miracle may occur that he will become a considerate person but I doubt it.

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  33. Liz

    Thank you for this vlog. I appreciate how you used your own personal experience to inspire us to make “clean requests”, especially when the recipient of the request may take offense regardless of how diplomatically the request is delivered! Not making a “clean request” and then resenting the outcome is self- inflicted misery.

    The story of the friend who has repeatedly not kept commitments to you was very thought-provoking. It reminded me that not keeping commitments means functioning at a low level of integrity. Not only is it mentally draining to function at that level, it does not inspire people around us to us to practice integrity in their lives. We are the company we keep.

    I also do not think it is necessary for me to make a “clean request” of a person I to whom I feel close, to to keep their commitments. A commitment is by definition something that does not require a request for it to be kept. Rather I observe people close to me, and if at some point their level of integrity becomes too low, I quietly walk the other way. Easier to do when I am functioning at extremely high level of integrity in my own life!

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  34. Kathy

    This clarified so much for me! Thank you

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  35. Mary M

    Susan, thank you for this. I see where I assume people know what I expect of them but, they don’t and it’s not their fault!

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  36. Sharron

    Wow. This is the most enlightening vlog to date for me. I have been struggling with how to address some situations I have been up against in the past few months and I now have the “tool in my toolbox” to use in a loving and respectful, but firm way, on the people around me. I can’t believe I never thought of it myself. Thank you, thank you. So excited to put it in action.

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  37. Samantha

    I thought you did make a clean request to your friend when you asked him to let you know if he will be late?? He still didn’t … to me that is not just disobeying common courtesy but downright disrespectful… I wouldn’t want to babysit someone like that and tell them what they should or should not do… that’s not a friend that’s a child.. but sounds like the benefits of this friendship make this flaw seem like just a one off glitch..

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  38. Patricia

    Susan:
    Would love for you to meet Alison Armstrong. I did many of her programs before Brightline Eating and so much of what you are talking on your vlog connects with her work on creating partnerships. Making requests, entrusting and being entrusted by others are the book ends of everything that it takes to be in partnership – you mentioned some pretty important aspects of making requests and what gets in the way and there is so much more… really good vlog. Very grateful for tge work you do and what it provides for us. Thank you.

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  39. Kathy Sharpf

    Thank you Susan for reminding me! In rehab we called this “boundaries”. In the past I was so bad at this. Just assuming everyone knew what I was thinking. Lol. I don’t even know what I’m thinkIng at times! My sister follows you for food. I follow you for life. Thank you!

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  40. TJ Carlsen

    Susan, Great sublect and one that would benefit from revisiting as a society in these “modern times”. It makes alot of sense that we all look at the many ways in which communication becomes “loaded” and delayed which does alter whatever is being communicated in all directions. For instance, this very video took over two minutes lead in in order to come to some idea what the videos content was about…… and yes, each of us can unintentionally have this effect , being, challenging the notion of boudaries though perhaps this idea also warrants a broader scope of insights . One point that illustrates this notion might look like broadening perspective to include our own actions or inacations, communications , timing and in particular the impact we each can have on situations and others
    Thank you for all your efforts and insights.

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  41. Lynn

    I just have to tell you that I think you are an amazing person Susan. I follow you, I love the program, you are a super person but I guess none of us are perfect and because you’ve just taught us that we need to be clear and concise, I am just going to do that. And pls know that I am not alone in this as I’ve heard others make the same comments. Sometimes the language that you use can be very offensive and unbecoming. And yes, probably it doesn’t bother most people but if you don’t use it at all, it will not offend anyone. Pls consider keeping this site clean for all to be able to listen to it without our ears hurting. Thank you.

    Reply ·
    1. Susan Peirce Thompson

      Hi Lynn,

      Thank you for your request. Yes, it’s one I get sometimes (I notice that a couple of others have made it here in the comments).

      Each time I hear the request not to use swear words I consider it. Many things come to mind, including my deep desire not to hurt or offend anyone, the efforts I’ve made in the past to stop swearing and the intense focus it took, the willpower depletion I experience in my life in general these days and the other priorities on my plate, the people (there are many of them) who write in saying they love it when I swear, the research that shows that about 13% of people (in America) are deeply offended by swearing and a much larger number won’t reach a deep level of trust with someone UNLESS they swear, the people who will never see my videos because people of faith (and other sensibilities) won’t pass them along to church groups or friends and family because of the swearing, and on and on. It’s quite a nuanced issue, actually.

      At the present time I’m not choosing to work on my swearing. The primary reason for that is that I know quite a bit (from several past attempts when I was a professor and decide to stop swearing in class and worked on it really hard…three different times) about the effort it takes, and my honest assessment is that this is not the best place for those energies right now. I’m balancing the growth of the BLE movement, my focus on my kids, and tending to my own recovery and self-care, not to mention my marriage, friendships, and all the rest. Lack of bandwidth for crucial priorities is my #1 issue in life these days, and “work on stopping swearing” doesn’t make it to the top of the list right now. I will stay open, though, and keep reconsidering it as it comes up.

      I suspect that’s not the answer you were hoping for, and I’m sorry about that.

      I guess this brings us to the end of this video, where the dance goes like this:
      — we make our clean request
      — they do what they do with it
      — we decide what to do from there

      With love, respect, and a definite twinge of regret,
      Susan

      Reply ·
      1. Almudena

        Honesty makes you who you are Susan. And it’s not always easy for you, or the others. But it is real. The only way.
        Thank you for being yourself.
        Love

        Reply ·
  42. Charmaine

    I do this! I thought I was being nice to people by not getting on their case. Instead I made it easier for conflict to arise and disrespect to happen. I do not like conflict in any way and even though I heard what and how you said it should be done, this still feels like potential conflict to me. I keep hoping that people who know me, like your professor knows you, wont keep me waiting every time or will speak to me in a more respectful way without my having to make an issue of it. Learning about another person you care about is not rocket science after all. If someone doesn’t like waiting for you then don’t make them wait and don’t put people in a position where they have to ask you to behave in a better manner…or is that simply not possible where people are concerned?

    Reply ·
  43. Linda

    If a person with whom I share in common repeatedly did not honor agreed upon times I would let them go rather than blame myself for not asking specifically. To me an intelligent person knows what good manners are and if they continually are late they are clearly not as invested in being connected as I. I am moving on.

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  44. Terri

    This was an excellent vlog. I appreciate this so much. As someone who has struggled with these things (e.g. friends habitually late, people pushing food on me, etc.), this was so valuable. I am also not offended by your language, by the way. As a coworker said, sometimes that language is the salt and pepper of our sentences, and the message just isn’t the same without it.
    Not to dilute this reponse…but I also wanted to remark that I love, love, love your wardrobe. You clothing and jewelry are beautiful and flattering. I would love to know if there’s something you’ve done to develop such a great sense of style. I need to do that….

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