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Six Ways to Express Your Needs

Updated: Jul 6

Are you debating telling someone what you want? Maybe you feel a familiar heaviness in your stomach as you think about it. You're unsure about the best way to share your needs— or even if you should. Sound familiar? I know where you're coming from! In this blog post, I'll share six tips on working through indecision to express yourself confidently.

Two women sitting on a couch, having an intentional conversation.

Maybe you're uncomfortable sharing your true feelings. Perhaps you go along with your friends' ideas when, deep down, you don't want to. Or maybe you're frustrated at school, home, or work because you wish things were different, but you don't know how to tell people.

So you stay quiet and go along to get along. There's no shame in doing that—I get you! Being cooperative can be a healthy, prosocial trait, and it helps families, friend groups, workplaces, and relationships flourish. Many good things come from knowing how to cooperate, and it's also essential to understand how to use your voice.

Sharing what you feel and think is a skill. Like anything else you practice, whether it's studying for a test, learning to drive, or navigating team meetings at work, it's likely to get easier with time. As it becomes more of a habit, your comfort and confidence may grow, too! Let's jump into exploring how to express your needs.

  1. Get clear on what you want. What do you hope will happen when you share what you want? Answering that question can be challenging, especially when telling people your needs is something you haven't done much before. That makes complete sense! Another way to gain clarity about what you want is by asking, "If I could wave a magic wand and get what I hope for, what would it look like?"

  2. Name why you want it. Now that you've gotten specific about your ideal outcome, do some soul-searching to find your "why." Sometimes, this step can be tricky when your gut instinct is in charge. You might try reflecting on what it would mean to you to have that magic wand situation. For example, would asking for a raise mean you'd be able to save more money toward your first car or pay off college loans faster? Or would overcoming your anxiety mean you'd finally ask out your crush? This step is all about identifying what benefit you'll gain from being brave and putting your needs out there.

  3. Consider your audience. Who do you need to tell? Who is going to help you meet your needs? Maybe it's your supervisor, boss, or even your entire family. Whoever it is, take some time to think about their perspective. Try to put yourself in their shoes and imagine what their priorities are. Ask yourself, "When I tell them what I want, what will be their concerns?" After identifying some concerns, brainstorm some ideas for addressing the concerns in a way that honors your needs and those of whoever you'll be talking with.

  4. Come up with support for your wants. You are worthy, and asking for what you need is valid. It's possible that whoever you share your desires with has no idea about your viewpoint. State the reasons for your ask. For example, you haven't been able to stop thinking about the great conversation you had with your crush a few weeks ago. Or you've learned that your coworker is making more than you, even though you both do the same job and have worked for the company for the same amount of time. Get specific about the reasons behind what you're asking for. Whether you end up sharing these reasons or not, identifying them can help boost your confidence.

  5. Use empathy and "I" statements. If you've never shared your needs with others before, it may feel scary and unfamiliar. That's okay and expected. Remember the first time you tried something new? You likely felt anxious, fearful, or unsure of yourself. Think of how far you've come since then! You can do hard things. When sharing your desires with people, remember that they're doing their best and give them the benefit of the doubt. Showing that you appreciate their viewpoint may make the chat feel warmer and more effortless. Use "I" statements to talk about your wants, so you avoid coming across as defensive or blaming. For example, you might say, "I am asking for a raise because I've exceeded expectations and worked overtime regularly," rather than using a "you" statement such as, "You are paying my coworker more than me."

  6. Share your needs. I know—it's easier said than done! Once you've worked through the previous steps, it might be helpful to come up with a possible time to discuss your wants. Before the discussion, take some time to get in a good mindset. This might look like listening to songs that'll get you pumped up and feeling empowered, doing a guided meditation to calm your anxiety, or spending time drawing, writing, or crafting to help clear your mind. Whatever helps get you to a happy mind space works! When you're ready, open up about what you've been wanting. You've got this!

After telling others about your needs, consider doing something to celebrate—regardless of the discussion's outcome. Expressing your desires is a lifelong skill that can help you be your own best advocate.

For more support, consider contacting a professional counselor at Libra Virtual Care. We're happy to help you on your journey.

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