How to communicate your needs?

communicate your needs

Communicate your needs is a difficulty? Do you feel unheard? Let’s see in this article how to formulate a clear and ecological request for you and for the other person in order to satisfy your need. Thanks to non-violent communication, I share with you how to build a harmonious and sustainable relationship.


The language of needs

First of all, to communicate our needs well we need to stay connected with our heart. Expressing our needs gives us power with others, not over others. The best way to gain power with others is to communicate your unmet needs and make the other person want to give from the heart.

Many of us human beings have been accustomed to a with others. The punishment and reward relationship being a perfect illustration. “If you don’t do what I tell you to do right away, I will kick your ass” Or “you’ll be deprived of dessert”, or “thank you who?”.

The gift must come from the heart, to contribute to the well-being of others or to life itself. But often the response to the request comes from fears or a desire to get something

Drawing attention to one’s needs

Let’s emphasise that when others have full attention to our needs, they no longer hear criticism, judgement, or demands. So, dare to draw the attention of your loved ones to your needs. This is not wrong, but on the contrary necessary for harmonious relationships.

Identify the need behind an emotion

First of all, getting into the habit of identifying your need is essential. Because the other person cannot meet your need if you don’t know it yourself. How do I know what I want, you might ask. Well, you won’t know until you have it! If you feel better, then it was the right need. If not, it was another one… Learning to ride a bike is how you get good at it. 

Indeed, it is not instinctive to know how to recognize one’s needs, just as it is not instinctive for the other. It’s a training to listen to yourself, to reconnect with yourself to clarify what you want. And of course, at the beginning, we are a bit slow and clumsy. No harm in that, just let the other person know that you are trying your best to communicate your needs in a non-violent way, and but it is a new communication habit for you!

Healing past wounds

When one has been used to responding to requests as a child, either violently, in the form of blackmail, authoritarian and without explanation… one keeps memories. Thus, there is a form of instinctive reaction that has been created, influencing our behaviour towards a request from the other. Often it is a mistrust.

It is important to heal your past wounds, with a kinesiologist for example. She will help you to look for all the resonances of these behaviours in your life, in order to bring gentleness, listening, and a highlighting of new benevolent perspectives offered to you. 

One’s need should never involve the other

When we believe that our needs involve another person’s action, we quickly exhaust the resources of an abundant world. It is important to take responsibility for your emotions, as well as your needs. 

Some of these needs can only be fulfilled by yourself, such as the need for freedom. Only you are able to give yourself this freedom to be, to act, to think, to create… Moreover, you cannot blame the other for what you feel. 

If you are angry, it is because you have probably not asked to fulfil a need that is important to you. This may be because you don’t know what it is, or because you haven’t listened to yourself, or because it has been judged as “not right”, generating shame or guilt for example.


Formulate clear requests to communicate your needs

Use a vocabulary of action, positive, in the present

It is important to say what you want, not what you don’t want. Do not try to eliminate something.  For example “prevent from”, “tell not to do…”. The only solution then is a stronger option: violence.

What do we want others to do [differently]? For what reasons? Use a very clear vocabulary of action, in which case you may not have the appropriate response. For example: “stop making noise with your pen”… you may well get a noise in response… with something else even more disturbing. Ask directly for what you want directly! 

Communicate your needs in a way that makes the other person want to give

It is important to accept that no one will want to live with you if:

  • You ask them to always agree with you, 
  • To say yes to everything you want when you want it,
  • To guess everything you need without you saying it. 

This is the relationship game! Joy disappears when we don’t feel free to give. 

To preserve your relationships, please give the other the opportunity. If the other feels any sense of “I’ll only give to you if” they will not want to give or receive… or even to be around you. And if it’s a giraffe [NVC], it will politely suggest that you find someone else to play the game with. So, do we wait for 5 divorces or do we learn to communicate today, and respect each other?


Establish rules, evolving, in any relationship

In order to have this freedom of being, we must also accept that the other is different and does not always have the same desires at the same time. Hence the importance of communicating well to find a fair agreement for everyone. 

I advise you to set your rules together from the start. Take time to make them evolve in your relationship. Because we change, it’s only natural that the rules change too. And if you need a mediator, call on a therapist.

Welcome the other person, and respond non-violently 

As I explained earlier, a dominant upbringing creates specific behaviours. When you are faced with a person who has never learned to communicate his needs, you can accompany him by showing him that with you there is no order. There is also no punishment, no duty to do things. 

You can also ask the other person quite honestly “how do I formulate my request, without you feeling that you are taking it as a demand? See what reaction you get when you try to be honest. Try to understand what the person is really saying through their words, attitude, and non-verbal language. 

For it is a good start to communicate and allow the other person to gently face up to his or her responsibility towards his or her emotions and needs. Without judgement, I repeat! There is always a wound behind a behaviour, which is nobody’s fault, but the result of a repetition of a situation in one’s life. This does not define who the person is.

If they react like this, there is always a reason. You can welcome the person by expressing that you understand them, and that their need to….. is important to them. And then guide them towards expressing their present need, while remaining very much in line with yourself. and don’t forget to thank the other person for their honesty, without judgement. 

For it is a good start to communicate and allow the other person to gently face up to his or her responsibility towards his or her emotions and needs. Without judgement, I repeat! There is always a wound behind a behaviour, which is nobody’s fault, but the result of a repetition of a situation in one’s life. This does not define who the person is.

Identify request and demand 

Note that there are also demands hidden behind requests. But then, how do we identify request and demand? We can only know this from the way the other person will treat us if we don’t! 

There are 3 types of reactions to a request understood as a demand by the other. 

  • Clear refusal.
  • The body language expresses disagreement (rolling eyes) with an “ok if you want”.
  • Acceptance without saying anything.

If your request is interpreted as a criticism by the other person, you lose the connection that makes it fun to give. This activates a reaction of defence or attack. What happens is that we store in memory 

  • a habit of reacting when others do not do what we want
  • the way others react when we don’t do what they ask

The origin of our dysfunctional behaviour regarding how to communicate your needs

It is a behaviour that is integrated from early childhood according to what the child observes. This creates behaviour. Well anchored in our subconscious, it becomes difficult to notice that these reactions are what I call “automatic pilot”! The child may then find it difficult to trust the other person, because he or she notices dysfunctions and experiences injustices. 

For example the story of the seal ripped off baby A by baby B. Baby A does not have the words to express his injustice so he hits baby B and gets his seal back. Baby B cries. Baby B’s mum runs to him, and takes him in her arms to console him without trying to understand the situation. Mum of A scolds baby A, who experiences a profound injustice that day.

And to avoid suffering, he adopts the reaction that will meet his need. For example: if I cry or am sad, I will get a hug. He can also understand by deduction of correlation “action” – “reaction” how to manipulate to get what he wants. He then learns that day that even if someone takes what is his, if he wants to avoid being argued with, he must either :

  • let the other take it even if unfair (rejection being to avoid)
  • Or cry for getting love and attention. 

And here an example of origin of a dysfunctional behaviour with which he will build himself. This example is not meant to make mothers feel guilty: we are always learning, at all ages, doing our best according to our past patterns. But rather to highlight the importance of knowing the basics of non-violent communication to be able to transmit what I call “relational ecology”.

Be patient: accept that before knowing how to communicate your needs, you don’t know

You want to go further? I invite you to make a couple or family appointment to untie the knots together. You can also contact me for an adapted coaching program to go further on the expression of your needs. 

Believe me, I have also been a baby giraffe, and I am perfectly able to understand what you are going through, whatever your problem is. I have had help from therapists: kinesiology for my injuries, hypnosis and meditation for listening to my emotions. Reiki for understanding my needs, and dance therapy for expressing or communicating my needs through the body to begin with. I invested in many trainings until I finally felt comfortable with this new way of working, and now I am able to share and teach it with joy.

In relationships, it is difficult to work alone, because the situation is woven together… to create a third factor existing in itself: the relationship. But what is possible to work on alone or with a therapist is to learn to recognise one’s needs and gradually get into the habit of expressing them without engaging the other. These are also the basics that are taught in Reiki training, which is above all a philosophy of life! 

But I warn you, you have to be ready because it can be a bit of a shock. Don’t expect to succeed immediately either, it’s gradually that we learn the giraffe language, as we say in NVC. As for the other person, he or she must also do his or her job or else the relationship will come to a definite end, because the little apprentice giraffe in progress will no longer want to be at the service of the other person. Entering into NVC means completely transforming all your relationships… starting with the one with yourself!

Don’t forget, everyone can learn non-violent language. With sometimes a little help to release past wounds, I guarantee that together, everything is possible!


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You can also share your difficulties in comments, and ask your questions.

See you soon giraffes in progress 🙂


How to communicate your needs?

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