A critical aspect of effective communication is learning how to express our needs.
In our efforts to communicate effectively with others, we need to learn how to observe behavior, without evaluating, to figure out an individual’s needs.
For effective communication, we need to differentiate between feelings and thoughts.
We need to be aware of how using I feel statements may be expressing an opinion and not true feelings.
The next step in effective communication is to connect feelings to personal needs.
Two kinds of needs.
Humans have two types of fundamental needs-physical and spiritual. The basic survival needs of food, clothing, shelter and protection are evident to most of us. Other physical needs include air, water, exercise, movement, disease control, sleep and rest, sexual expression, and touch of other living beings.
Spiritual needs are more extensive and, unlike physical needs, are difficult at times to determine if they are being met. Being able to connect feelings to spiritual needs, though, becomes vital to both communication and opportunities for personal growth and freedom.
Humans have basic spiritual needs for beauty, harmony, inspiration, order and peace. Some spiritual needs combine with physical needs. These needs include activity, exploration, orientation, order, becoming, belonging, repetition, precision, exactness, communication and imagination.
Needs create feelings and behaviors.
The combination of these needs create tendencies for behavior and include as well as define other specific needs, such as acceptance and appreciation.
All of us share requirements to be involved in activities that meet our physical or spiritual needs.
For example, our spiritual need to belong to our place and time, our families, and our communities appears in our choices of dreams, goals and values.
The need to belong affects our decisions about food, clothing, housing, marriage partners and on and on. The need to belong also encompasses our needs for acceptance, appreciation, celebration, consideration, emotional safety, honesty, love, respect, trust, understanding, friendship and more.
We could look at each of these needs, activity, exploration, orientation, order, becoming, belonging, repetition, precision, exactness, communication and imagination, and consider how each need drives our behavior. Taking the time to examine our personal connections between needs and behavior can help clarify the relationship between feelings and needs.
Feelings are need driven as well. As we learn to communicate and accept our emotions, while understanding that our feelings are linked to our needs, we become emotionally responsible.
Once we connect our needs with our feelings, behaviors and actions, we start to take responsibility for our intentions and actions. We will also realize that we are not responsible for others’ feelings. We may even experience anger as we no longer want to base our choices on avoiding someone’s disappointment.
The end stage of emotional responsibility is emotional liberation, where we accept full responsibility for our personal emotions but not the feelings of others. We understand that we cannot meet our own needs at the expense of others.
Practice connecting needs with feelings and behavior by using this sentence:
I am (emotion) because I need or want (spiritual or physical need); therefore I choose to do (behavior).
I am happy because I need harmony; therefore I choose to take a walk every day.
I feel frustrated because I want to have more time to exercise; therefore, I choose to wake up an hour early every day.
To create powerful communication, connect feelings with needs and choices for behavior.