One of the biggest communication myths that leads to a lot of unnecessary pain is the belief that if somebody really cares about you or values you then you shouldn’t have to tell them what you want or need. This can apply in personal relationships as well as in our professional ones.
- If you loved me I wouldn’t have to ask you_______________ (to say I love you, for your help, to plan a date, etc).
- If you really valued me as an employee, you would give me the raise I would like (but have never asked for).
Some people hold the belief that if they have to ask for what they need or want then somehow it doesn’t count. Not only does it not count, the other person’s inability to anticipate and respond to the unvoiced needs is interpreted as a sign that they are not cared about or valued.
This belief can lead to a lot of suffering for all involved.
Part of healthy communication is the ability to both recognize and voice our own needs and wants. This isn’t always an easy thing. Sometimes we aren’t even sure what we want or need and try to outsource it, hoping the other person can figure out these things for us. Making requests for what we want can also lead to feeling vulnerable, not feeling like we have a right to ask for what we want, or being scared of hearing a negative response.
A great resource for exploring request-making for wants and needs is Non-Violent Communication by Marshall Rosenberg
Experiment: take a moment to think about a current personal or professional relationship. Can you see any areas where it may be hard to identify or ask for what you need/want from the other person? What are some of the thoughts or beliefs that might be acting as barriers?
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