Employing Differences

Employing Differences, Episode 47: How do I get what I need?

April 06, 2021 Karen Gimnig & Paul Tevis
Employing Differences
Employing Differences, Episode 47: How do I get what I need?
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Employing Differences
Employing Differences, Episode 47: How do I get what I need?
Apr 06, 2021
Karen Gimnig & Paul Tevis

"The better job I've done identifying my actual need, the more likely it is that my request can be met because the actual need can almost always be met in a number of different ways."

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Show Notes Transcript

"The better job I've done identifying my actual need, the more likely it is that my request can be met because the actual need can almost always be met in a number of different ways."

Listen on the website and read the transcript

Watch this episode on YouTube

Paul:

Welcome to Employing Differences, a conversation about exploring the collaborative space between individuals.

Karen:

I'm Karen Gimnig.

Paul:

And I'm Paul Tevis.

Karen:

Each episode, we start with a question and see where it takes us. This week's question is, "How do I get what I need?"

Paul:

This is one of the things that I describe as simple and not easy, like running a marathon. Running a marathon is

simple:

Start running, stop 26.2 miles later. Describing it is very straightforward, but actually doing it is incredibly difficult. So simple and not easy. My two-step process for

how do I get what I need:

Figure out what I need. Ask for it. There's a lot in those two steps, and I think we're gonna spend the rest of the time unpacking all of that. But I think the first thing is kind of figuring out need is a is a loaded word in the cultures that we come from. Being labeled as "needy" can be really problematic, in some organizations and in some environments. But understanding what it is about you and about yourself, and how you're sort of slotted into a particular situation, and what needs you have, what the consequences of those needs not being met are, both for you and the other people around you, I think is really, really important. So the first thing in terms of like, how do I get what I need is actually starting to get clear on "What is it that I actually need?" Not "What is the strategy that I have for getting some need met," but "What do I actually need?"

Karen:

Yeah, I think that's true. And I think one of the things that gets in the way of that is this myth that we tell ourselves that "My needs are the same as everybody else's, and everybody else knows what I need, and if they're not giving it to me, it's because they don't want to." That there's some inherent assumption that everyone already knows or to your point about neediness not being acceptable that it would be terrible if they found out. And so we want to kind of get through those two myths of, it's okay to have a thing that you need, or perhaps a better way to say it is, "What's the thing that would make my work more effective?" What's the thing that would work better for me, in this place? And so if the word need is too much of a hang up, "What is it that would help me be my best? What is it that would make my work more effective? What is it that I would even like?" Heaven forbid you ask for thing just because you'd like. That could be a thing. And trying to decide what's a like and what's a need is actually probably not very useful.

Paul:

One of the things I really appreciate about what you just said, is that sort of taking the frame of "What will help me be at my best? What will help me contribute as much as possible to this current situation?" And kind of looking at I've been, we've been doing a lot of gardening and landscaping recently. So I've been thinking a lot about conditions. What are the conditions that when they're true allow these plants to flourish. And so we've been thinking a lot, we've been learning a lot about how the sunlight works in our area at different times of year and things like that. We can't necessarily control all of the things but we can be aware of, "What are the conditions that allow these plants to thrive?" And I think that's also really true about ourselves. So maybe instead of thinking about needs, what are the things that when they are true that when they are present in the environment, allow me to be at my best allow me to thrive, allow me to contribute to the project, to the team, to the community, to my fullest extent, and starting to notice and become aware of those.

Karen:

Yeah. So once we figured that out that what do I need or want or would make me be at my best, whatever's will language that works for you then the next piece is to be willing to ask for it. I think that one of the first things I'd say about that is I would put the word "request" in the mix. That if the tone is one of request, as opposed to one of demand, and I think that's a place where this goes wrong and where we learn not to ask for our needs to be met is where there's been a feeling of demand or that if I ask there's only one right answer, and we've talked about that in a previous episode about if you make a request that either answer has to be acceptable. So I think the first thing is to get your headspace in the space of, "There's a request that I would like to make," of someone else or have a system or of the company or where, you know, wherever that might be able to be met, wherever that need is, that I'd like to make a request in the frame of this is something I would like to have or that would help me or that would make me more effective, is that possible?

Paul:

And I think there's a, there's a piece around that about, like framing, sort of what the impact is in that not happening. Still you want people to be at choice about it, about whether or not to do it, because I totally agree with you, like, we have to... Making demands is not a particularly good way of getting our needs met. But I'm thinking about I was working with someone recently who was talking about a relationship with a supervisor and wanting to get sort of on the same page about what it is that it would mean to succeed on this project. And as we were talking, this person kind of realized, like, "I don't actually know how we're defining success." So in order to be able to support this person's boss, what they needed was information about, "Wait, what does success look like? I can't make good decisions about how to move forward with this, and I can't actually do my best work on this project, unless I have this information, I'm willing to explore it with you. I don't necessarily need it to be spoon fed to me. But if I don't get the information, we're gonna stay in the current gridlock that we're in right now." And it was actually about kind of recognizing, oh, the problem we're experiencing right now is because this particular need isn't being met. And so if we want to move past it, then then something has to change, and the thing that would be useful to change is this need being fulfilled.

Karen:

And I think this is a place where part one and part two link. That the better job I've done identifying my actual need, the more likely it is that my request can be met because the actual need can almost always be met in a number of different ways. And so it's figuring that out. You've been doing a lot of gardening, I've been doing a lot of raising a 16-year-old, and in the life of raising a 16-year-old, you know, I have this need that when I go into the kitchen, I want to be able to cook there. And, and so I have this idea that what I need is for him to empty the dishwasher and you know, clean up after himself when he's been in the kitchen. And so if I go at it that my need is for you to clean up after yourself, well, that comes across as blaming and demanding and all kinds of things. And he doesn't respond well. It's very much that demand frame. And what I have found is if my request is, you know, would you clean up after yourself? Well, sure. But he doesn't remember. And a couple of days ago, I actually just said to him, I said, "Do you actually just not notice that this needs to be done?" And he said, "Yeah, I really don't notice." I said, "But there's no space?" He says, "Yeah, just shoved stuff to the side." Like he's solving his problem, and is completely unaware of my problem. And me wanting him to be aware of it, and to notice that there's no space or whatever isn't going to happen. But what I said to him is, "So I guess what I should do is just remind you more often." And he said, "Yeah, that'd be fine." And now if I remind him more often it gets done more often. And when I go into the kitchen, I can cook. So that actual need, which wasn't really for him to remember I can solve that, if I know that's the problem the actual need is for the cleanup to happen. So the more I can get to the core need that has potentially many different solutions. And then that's what I'm asking about is can you help me solve this thing that I need. And then we work together and get creative about it. There's pretty good odds that people you work with or live with or whatever can and are willing to find a way to meet you with that.

Paul:

There's an additional layer there which triggers something in me which is actually about sharing the problem you're trying to solve. The problem you're trying to solve is you want to cook dinner and you can't because of the state of the kitchen. So you'd like the kitchen to be in a different state so you can cook dinner. One of my one of my pet peeves is this whole thing in business where the manager says, "Don't bring me problems, bring me solutions." This just annoys me. Because I'm like, "Look, if I had a solution, I wouldn't need to come to you." I'm bringing you a problem, because I need you to think with me about it. I know that you see scope and context that I don't. If I just bring you a solution, it's probably not going to work because it doesn't take into account all the things that you know, and are aware of, and things like that. So I want to be able to bring you a problem, so that we can problem solve together. Now, I'm not abdicating responsibility for doing that with you. I'm not gonna show up and throw a problem on your desk and say "You deal with it." But what I want is to be able to bring the problem, and now we can work it together. And I think that's another way of kind of working around on this, "How do I get what I need?" In some ways, rather than saying what, "I need is this," being able to bring "Hey, the problem I'm struggling with is this. And I want to make sure that whatever it is the solution, it works for you too." And so what you're talking about in that situation where it's like, you would not have come with the solution of I'm going to remind you more often. Right, you would never have brought that. But in working together and saying "This the problem," you know, the solution came up, "Well just remind me more often." "Oh, I can do that? That's a valid solution? Okay, great." And so I think, noticing that we have a need, noticing that the need is not being met is actually a really great doorway into the space of the problem. And then we can then sort of invite other people into that space to explore it with us together, so we can kind of all see it and come up with a solution that's going to work for everybody.

Karen:

Yeah, so I think just to summarize where we've been starting with, how do I get my needs met. And that the first step is to really identify the needs both to name that you have needs or wants or wishes or things that would make you more effective. And, and then get into sort of what the core thing is not just the one solution, but the actual problem and putting it into that problem kind of language. Carrying it forth as a request and a collaborative request, often into that creative space. And all of this really premised on the assumption that the people I'm working with are interested in working with me and they're interested in me being effective, and they're very likely willing to help me in a way that they can and feel comfortable with. And so really looking at this as a collaborative kind of project. And that in the end, when that's the way it's approached, almost always needs can be met.

Paul:

I think that's gonna do it for us for today. Until next time, I'm Paul Tevis.

Karen:

And I'm Karen Gimnig, and this has been Employing Differences.