When people hear a demand, they see only two options: submission and rebellion.
If seen as coercive, then the listener's capacity to respond compassionately to the request is diminished.
To tell if it's a demand or request, observe what the speaker does if the request is not complied with -it is a demand if the speaker then criticizes or judges.
The more we interpret non-compliance as rejection, the more likely a request will be heard as a demand.
This leads to a self-fulfilling prophecy, for the more people hear demands, the less they enjoy being around us.
"Would you be willing to set the table? " rather than " I would like you to set the table."
However, the most powerful way to communicate that we are making a general request is to empathize with people when they don't agree to the request.
We demonstrate that we are making a request rather than a demand by how we respond when they do not comply. Choosing to request rather than demand does not mean we give up when someone says no to our request. It does mean that we do not engage in persuasion until after we have empathized with what is preventing the other person from saying yes.