State your needs, make your requests

Key to basic need

The line between stating needs and making requests is fine. It’s easy to confuse the two; things that fall under the “It’d be nice if…” umbrella get categorized in our minds so often as necessary.

I need a vacation. I’d like to go on a vacation.

I need to get my car washed. I want to get my car washed.

I need to see that cat video. I love cats, show me the video!

I need to eat lunch. I need to drink some water. I need to use the restroom. Those are needs.

I like the sentiment “state your needs,” and would like to see “make a request” used more when it’s appropriate. When we step over the line from stating needs to making requests, something significant happens. We must value ourselves to own the request. Now that the request is more than a basic need (what jerk denies a basic need?), we find ourselves on the cliff of vulnerability. We’re scared to be pushed off with “no” so maybe we veil our requests in statements of need.

I need to know if you’ll be there. Will you be there?

I need you to reply to my text. I’d like you to reply to my text.

I need you to complete this report. Please complete this report.

I need you to go to the grocery store. Please go to the grocery store.

I need you to take out the trash. Please take out the trash.

Or in some cases we try to offload the ownership completely.

Do you want to complete this report?

Do you want to go to the grocery store?

Do you want to take out the trash?

This is one of my biggest pet peeves and sometimes when someone drops one of these on me and I feel surly I reply with a flat “no.”

Let’s be brave and practice making requests. This month’s Friday posts will focus on making requests in various areas of life. Comment below if you would like to request a specific topic be included (e.g. communication style/amount, support, advice, boundaries, workplace, solitude time, change…). 

7 thoughts on “State your needs, make your requests

  1. I have the damnedest time requesting support. I genuinely don’t know where the line is between want and need there…which is a bit sad in and of itself. I’d love to hear what you have to say there, MES. Rock on.

    1. Ooo, support is a biggie. We talking personal or work support? For me, each comes with their own internal dialogue. Also as a first thought on support, I think we can make it much harder on ourselves to ask for wants (especially for those of us who are straight up functional and logical—we can talk ourselves into “it’s not necessary so I won’t even ask and waste time”). Thanks for chiming in with your preference Margaret, I appreciate it!

      1. Well…both. But personal is actually an easier place to start. I’m one of those rational people who projects self-sufficiency and resourcefulness, which seems to make it easier for people to think I don’t need support, encouragement, or help. This leads to situations in which I feel utterly on my own and I’ve even found myself feeling resentment that “nobody’s ever there for ME.” (waaah, I know 🙂 ) I’m working on figuring out a way to say, “Yeah, I’m good, but right now I could really use some _______.” Pref. a way that doesn’t make me feel high-maintenance. Does any of that make sense or am I babbling? Thanks, M, for all you do, and all you are.

  2. Margaret, I feel you. I’m going to marinade in those thoughts, I don’t think any of it was babbling. Thank YOU for being. There’s a lot of hate on the interweb, I feel like reconnecting with you via this tool is an example of the good that can come from technology.

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