Do you avoid asking for what you want or need? A lot of people do. I was reminded of this common human behavior yesterday when I received several urgent texts from my 10 year old. At first I didn’t take it too seriously:
“I hate school!”, “Can I be homeschooled?”, “I can’t take it anymore!”
When I realised that her distress was genuine, I made arrangements to pick her up for lunch so we could unravel her challenges and come up with some solutions. She was clearly experiencing the frustration that accompanies unmet needs.
What follows is a simple method I like to use in these types of situations You can use it to help others and even yourself:
- Listen to the story. Ask questions. Stay neutral.
People usually need to tell their story. As a person speaks, their state of mind will begin to shift. Ask them how they feel, how they wanted things to be, what made them most upset and what needs didn’t get met. Don’t get caught in their drama by making judgements.
- Problem Solve
Help the individual figure out exactly what it is they wanted or needed. What would be the most effective method for making those needs known next time? Who should they ask and when? How should they articulate the need or suggested solution?
- Role Play
Invite the person to dialogue with you the way they would with their teacher, co-worker or whoever they will approach to help resolve the problem. Coach them this way :
- Clearly state the problem and how it makes you feel
- Clearly state the solution you would like
Role play this interaction several times until they have each part down to a few sentences and sound strong, articulate and polite.
Putting It All Together
After spending time sorting out my daughter’s story, I discovered that a key issue for her was feeling ‘left out’. We figured out who the best teacher would be to ask for help and how she could lead the conversation. I explained that she may get exactly what she asks for or it may be a good start to negotiations around improving her situation. In any case, taking action would definitely be a better approach than not even trying and staying miserable.
When people aren’t used to standing up for themselves and asking for what they need, it’s important that they start learning this ‘asking’ process with those who are safe and understanding. We want them to have positive, empowering experiences so that their self-confidence starts to build.
People who learn how to effectively ask for what they need or want tend to be more successful in life and therefore, happier. Sure, they experience rejection sometimes, but they open themselves up to countless more opportunities for receiving then they would if they did nothing.
Go forth and ask!