How to Ask for What You Need
When it comes to relationships, everyone wants to know how to keep it hot. If we should look deeper, what we are really aiming for is a sure way to hold on to it. That’s why reporters often ask longtime married couples for the secret sauce, and yet, we all know they haven’t stumble upon a single formula that works for everyone.
But one magic formula does exist. It’s asking for what you need.
Don’t you agree it makes sense? Who knows more about making you happy than you?
What’s that? You have trouble asking for what you need? You tried lots of times before and got shot down?
Before you throw your hands up in surrender, I’m here to tell you there is a way to ask for what you need, and in a way that will bring you closer to the person in your relationship.
why you're having trouble asking for what you need
First, you should know that the danger in not learning to ask for what you need often leads to passive-aggressive behaviors. You may also experience a host of unhealthy emotions such as resentment, anger, hurt and sadness.
Next, figure out why you’re having trouble asking for what you need. In my case, I nailed down two main reasons:
1. I didn’t feel deserving. I was wrestling with feelings of unworthiness and insecurity. Once I dealt with these feelings, I felt a sense of legitimacy in asking for what I needed.
2. I was afraid of losing what I got. I wasn’t willing to risk more to gain more. I was behaving in a way that psychologists termed loss aversion. It’s the human tendency to avoid losses nearly at all costs rather than to take a chance and gain something better. It’s why people stay in unhealthy relationships.
6 WAYS TO ASK FOR WHAT YOU NEED
Once you figure out the “why,” the next step is the “how.” Asking for what you need is a learned skill. It requires some trial and error and small “wins” to build up your confidence level. Even after you become more comfortable at it, you may not get what you need. This is because you do not have control over other people’s response and behavior. With that in mind, here are six suggestions on how to ask for what you need.
Approach with an Attitude of Expectancy
Asking with an attitude of expectancy is a lot more effective than placing demands or issuing an ultimatum. If the only acceptable solution is your way or the highway, you will lose. On the other hand, expectancy sets a tone of courtesy and respect, and the other party doesn’t feel backed against the wall.
Pay Attention to Your Presentation and Timing
The importance of presentation and timing cannot be emphasized enough. You want the other person to be in “the right frame of mind” and receptive to your request. This goes for your own state of mind as well.
Persist not Punish
If you don’t get the response you need, repeat the above steps. Whatever you do, do not punish your significant other. You have a better chance of success if your request benefits both of you, and it does not come across as a petulant demand.
For example, an old boyfriend used to berate me for not calling him more often. Instead of a “hello,” he would say, his voice dripping with sarcasm, “Oh, so you do remember my number.” It got so that I dreaded calling him. Rather than expressing how happy he was to hear from me, which would have motivated me to call more often, his hostility was reinforcing the very behavior he wanted to stop.
Exercise Patience and Openness
If your initial request met with some resistance, keep the dialogue open by changing your presentation, offering a different solution or asking them to come up with a solution they would be more comfortable with. Remain open to their suggestions and concerns. If you approach from a “we” position rather than a “me” position, you have better chance of success.
Be Willing to Walk Away
This is the hardest step of all. What I often hear from women friends is that they have invested too much time and emotion to be walking away.
In response to this, Nina Simone put it best, “You have to learn to get up from the table when love is no longer being served.”
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