8 Tips: How to Express Your Needs Without Feeling Needy

Posted by in communication skills in dating, self-esteem in dating | 2 comments

express your needs without feeling needyYou have a choice: express your needs to your love partner or listen to nails scratching on a chalkboard? To many people, the latter seems more appealing. It doesn’t have to feel so painful, scary, or risky to express the things that are most important to you in your relationships. When a need has been stepped on, it’s crucial to be able to talk about it. But it’s something that most people either avoid or do in a way that’s disconnecting. Compassionate communication is a skill I’ve been studying for almost ten years. Well, actually, it’s something I’ve worked on my entire adult life. But in the past ten years, I’ve learned how to courageously express my needs while staying open and connected. Following are 8 tips to help you learn to express your needs without feeling needy.

 

8 ways to Courageously Express and Negotiate Your Needs

(without feeling needy, whiny, or naggy) 

1. Understand that your needs and your partner’s needs are equally valid and important. Needs are the core of who you are and what drives you. If a need is pushed under the rug, it will resurface. It might come back as a passive aggressive remark, or something more in-your-face, such as withholding sex or raging at your partner. So, begin with the belief that both of your needs are equally important.

2. Remember how courageous you’ve already been in other areas of your life. Did you stand up at work in defense of something near and dear to your heart? Were you successful? Remember that success. Tapping into this courage will support you in your toughest conversations.

3. Believe that a mutual solution that meets individual needs is possible. You don’t have to both agree on an issue in order to work things out. You just want your partner to understand that your feelings were hurt when a need wasn’t met. People learn how to treat you based on how you advocate for your needs. Mind reading doesn’t work. The more you can stand for the things that are important to you, the bigger the chance that your needs will be validated and honored.

4. Drop your assumptions and judgments about the other person and the situation.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard a made-up assumption about why someone’s love interest didn’t call or email or whatever!

Stop making things up and check things out. Ask questions. 

5. Don’t blame. Blame leads to defensiveness or shame. Again, check things out by asking questions. Keep an open mind.

6. Preparation helps you gain confidence. Get clear on what you need and figure out how you’ll express it. The more clarity you have, the better. I like to bookend my conversations with a good friend. I write out a rough draft of a tough conversation. I reread it several times to make sure I’m not bringing judgments and assumptions to the conversation. And then I call a friend to run it by her. When the conversation is complete, I check in with my friend again. Having that accountability and an objective observer helps me to stay true to my intention to stay connected in the tough conversation.

7. Listen! Seek to truly understand what your partner needs. When you’re done saying your piece, it’s important to stay open to hearing what he/she has to say. This is a dialogue, not a monologue. Try to stay open and not defensive when you hear the response. If you want understanding from your partner, you must give him the same respect and listen carefully to his words.

8. Breathe! This may seem obvious, but breathing helps you stay centered. Do what you must to stay in your power when you’re talking.

In order to have authentic and dynamic relationships, you need to have these kinds of difficult conversations. And the best part? They get easier with practice.

So practice, practice, practice…on everyone and anyone. You’ll soon become a pro who can express your needs without feeling needy.

Please share a tough conversation that you’ve successfully had, or a situation you’re dealing with now where you might need some help with expressing your needs.

xoxo

Sandy

Comments

2 Comments

  1. I have a partner who has many great attributes but one missing one is the ability to truly understand emotion and the needs connected to it. I have very emotional needs that are not recognized as credible. I am thought to be an emotional wreck when actually I am craving and reaching out for some kind d of emotional connection. When I don’t receive it, it all gets worse. Are we doomed or is there some compromise? I feel so frustrated I want to do something bad to myself because I feel I have no choice – please let me know what your thoughts are. Thank yoy

  2. Kristina,

    It sounds like there are two issues here: 1. You don’t feel validated emotionally by your partner. 2. You have strong emotional needs that you are looking to your partner for validating. The first is about your relationship. The second is about you. Here’s what I mean. We all have emotions, and every emotion is valid. There are no wrong or bad feelings. And in every relationship, there’s yours, mine, and ours. He has emotions, you have emotions, and those emotions require processing and a degree of self-management. No one can ‘make’ us feel anything. We react to triggers from our past until we work through them and are able to process. It’s about taking responsibility for our feelings and needs. AND…there’s the OURS, which is when a partner has said or done something that’s hurtful and we need to speak up about it in a way that connects and grows the relationship.

    I suggest you take care of your feelings and needs first, before deciding that you’re ‘doomed’. There are many great books out there, including Emotional Agility by Susan David, and Fierce Conversations, by Susan Scott.

    If you need more support, I specialize in helping women process emotions. Feel free to book a one-hour Speak Up Session here: https://lastfirstdate.com/speak-up-session/

    Best of luck to you!

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