The “They Need This” Syndrome

Pointing FingerQuote of the Day: “When you point your finger at someone else, remember, there are three fingers pointing back at you.” Anonymous

The “They Need This” Syndrome

Whenever I present communication and leadership skills, participants approach me to appreciate what they learned.

Somewhere in the conversation, it is not unusual to hear some say, “_____(name)_____ really needs this course” or “_____(Name)_____ should have private sessions with you.”

It happened again today.

Isn’t it amazing how the people who “really need” a particular skill rarely show up to learn it?

Why the wish to have people change?

It is admirable to want the best for others. Yet when we want them to change so we don’t have to confront them, we don’t give them an opportunity to be different. Avoiding confrontation, in psychological terms, enables people to continue unprofessional behaviors.

Instead, of saying “they need this”, the better statement is “I want to master _____ (skill)_____ so I can _____(ie: set a boundary)______ with this person.”

When you master the skill, you open the gift the person has given you by being the way they are. You may not master it otherwise.

Can you say, “Thank you for pushing my buttons so I can learn to set boundaries.” (Well, maybe not to a person’s face, but inside your mind.) When you master the skill, you have the ability to upgrade the relationship or create space for a healthier one.

A. Master the skill, be happy and feel good about yourself?
B. Avoid and allow dissatisfaction or unprofessional behavior to persist?

What is your choice?

When you catch yourself saying “You or They (should, need, ought to)…” Stop and ask,

1. What do I need in relationship to __________?
2. Am I wanting to change the person or their behavior.
3. What might happen if I asked for what I want?
4. Is my assumption true?” How do I know?
5. How does ignoring the behavior and allowing it feel?
6. How important is it to address the behavior?

If you are not comfortable asking for professional language instead of sarcasm, for instance, or you are concerned about how someone will respond, seek support from your manager or an HR professional.

If you decide you want to confront someone. Write about it first. What will you say? What do you think they will say? Seek guidance from an impartial coach or mentor.

Let your desired outcome be more than the person changing their behavior. It is best to be detached from the outcome and stay present with what shows up.

Mastery of detachment, presence and assertive communication skills is truly the optimal outcome.

Instead of “They Need This!” use “What skill can I master here?”

For assistance with upgrading reflexive patterns to freeze, hold back or avoid, Mind-Body Coaching can help. Call for a 30 minute free consult.


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