What does it mean to ask for what you need? What does it take for you to ask someone else what they really want?
For a long time, I did not feel comfortable asking anyone for help. As a young girl, I learned the importance of being able to take care of myself. This remains important to me, yet now I realize I may ask someone for help or support and still maintain my independence.
Being able to ask for what I need brings some relief to me, and the people around me. I set much clearer boundaries, which prevents resentment. Plus, no one must guess what I might need, reducing frustration for everyone involved.
When asking “yes” or “no” questions, you do not learn much unless the person answers more than the question. To increase connection and understanding, consider asking open-ended questions, such as: What brings you joy? What lights you up? What would you love? What would you like to see happen? What can I do to support you? What does that look like to you? Remember to get curious with yourself and replace the “you” with “I” or “me.” For example, what brings me joy or what would I love, etc.
Being clear when making requests provides ease for everyone involved. (You main gain clarity by asking yourself the questions in the previous paragraph.) Being open to understanding another’s response matters as well. If someone says “no,” it simply means they are meeting their own needs. After offering yourself some empathy, you may decide to ask another way, or consider other options for meeting that particular need. (You may also get curious about what need the “no” meets.)
Asking about others’ wants also plays a key role in building connection. While you might be able to guess what they need and might want, it really helps to clarify. It means being curious about someone else, and what meeting their needs looks like to them.
We all have different ways of meeting our needs for connection, respect, play, rest, safety, etc. Grandma may find it disrespectful to wear a cap at the dinner table, and your neighbor across the street may find it perfectly acceptable. One person may find rest in sitting on the couch and taking a nap, and another experience rest in being outdoors.
Whether you seek something for yourself, or wish to better understand someone in your life, ask. Showing up with sincere interest and curiosity builds connection.