Start, Stop & Change: asking for what you need

It’s amazing how often we expect others to read our minds about what we need. And then get upset when they don’t.

Listen versus problem solve

You want your friend to listen when you talk about the problem you’re having at the office, not problem solve.

But you don’t tell her this upfront.

Instead, you tell your story and she tries to help by suggesting one solution after the next. You get frustrated because you don’t feel truly heard.

But who’s to blame?

Your friend for not reading your mind?

Or you for failing to communicate your real need by saying, I’ve got a tough situation going on at work that I’d like to talk about. It would really help if you could just listen without trying to problem solve. Right now what I really need is just to be heard.

We do a disservice to ourselves and to others when we don’t communicate our needs. And sometimes we don’t get what we need because we never bothered to ask.

Help out more around the house

Here’s another example. You tell your husband you need him to help out more around the house this week. He doesn’t, which leaves you feeling overwhelmed and taken for granted.

But maybe you didn’t get what you need because you weren’t specific.

What if instead of the vaguely worded help out more you had said, I need you to pick up the drycleaning, clean the fish tank, and do the laundry.

Of course, when we make a specific request and ask for what we need, we may not get it.

But we have a much better chance of getting our needs met by being specific rather than expecting others to read our minds.

Here’s your mini mission

I want you to practice asking for what you need.

  • Think about something you need and who you need it from.
  • Get really clear in your own mind about your specific need.
  • Think about exactly how you will ask for what you need.
  • Tell someone what you need from them.