There’s a simple yet powerful formula for getting what you want. It’s called I.O.R.C. – Intention, Observation, Request, and Confirmation. Decide what you want to ask of someone and follow these steps. I’ve included an example of someone wanting to advance in a managerial role.

  • Intention – Before making your request, state clearly what you hope to accomplish and why it is of value. Create a bridge between what’s of interest to the other person and what you want. For example: “I’d like to help our firm grow in new markets and advance in my career.” Be as concrete as possible. This lets people know what you seek to accomplish and what’s in it for them.
  • >Observation – Be matter of fact and nonjudgmental. Many requests face rejection because they trigger defensiveness. This creates an ego clash—who’s right vs. who’s wrong. Make the observation your own with “I” statements. For example: “I’ve noticed that our organization has great opportunities to expand in the following market [specify]. I’ve checked out what would be required for us to succeed in that area. The key factors for success include [details]. I’ve had the following experience that would address those needs and help our team succeed.” Include just the facts, no editorial comments or judgments.
  • Request – Make a simple, direct statement of what you really want and ask if the other person is willing to provide it. The key is brevity and directness. Otherwise people feel crowded and pressured. For example: “Can we arrange a time in the next two weeks to discuss how I can help the company explore this new market?” Deliver the request and wait for the other person to respond. The supervisor will appreciate the initiative and may suggest that they consider another market area as well.
  • Confirmation – Reflect back to the other person with the final details of your next step. For example: “OK, I’ll contact your assistant today and make a thirty-minute appointment before the end of the month.” Notice how the confirmation makes clear who, what, and when for the action.

This process works because it is very personal and direct. People clearly know your intent, know what you’ve observed, and know exactly what you want. You can read examples of I.O.R.C. working on pages 100-103 of Take Charge of Your Talent.