How to Kindly and Assertively Ask for What You Need

I’ve been writing a lot about values, living in line with our values, and working towards making changes in order to make that happen. The last few weeks we’ve been working on evaluating our relationships to see if these relationships fall in line with our value systems. Two weeks ago you completed a worksheet on Evaluating Your Relationships, and I think it’s time to start to practice asking for what you need, and being receptive to other’s needs as well.

Learning how to ask for what you need can be difficult and scary, especially for women. As women we are conditioned to prioritize the needs of everyone else around us, kids, partners, work, and family etc. However as women we have needs and desires and they matter! Not asking for what we need can lead to resentment, anger, depression, and unhealthy coping skills.

Sometimes if we have gone a long time without asking for what we need, anger and resentment is brewing. This can easily lead to an explosion of unfiltered, possibly hurtful words when you finally try and ask for what you need. Before we have these discussions we need to be FULLY aware of our feelings. Put yourself in the other person’s shoes and ask yourself how you would like to be spoken to.

Here are some tips for kindly and assertively asking for what you need:

  1. Process your emotions BEFORE the conversation

    You can do this many ways: journaling, prayer, meditation, talking to a friend or therapist. The goal here is understand and process your emotions so that they don’t affect the way you communicate with this person. The other thing I think is important to remember, is that if we have chosen not to speak up in the past, then that is on us. If you’re angry because this person is doing certain things that have bothered you for a long time, then it is important to acknowledge that you also had a part in choosing not to bring it up until now.

    Just to clarify, I’m not referring to anyone who might feel emotionally or physically threatened in their relationship. If you are feeling physically or emotionally threatened, then it is important to seek help immediately from a professional. If you are experiencing domestic violence or being physically hurt in your relationship, you need help. Please call the local domestic violence hot line at 980.771.4673.

  2. Write down what you would like to say

    Write down exactly what you are asking for, in the most concrete way that you can. When asking for what you need in a relationship, it can be helpful for the other person to understand in a concrete way what you are asking for. For example, if you are asking for them to decrease or increase a certain behavior, be specific about what that behavior is and give examples is possible.

  3. Choose a time for the conversation that is good for both people

    Part of assertive communication is respecting the needs of others. Let this person know that you would like to talk to them and ask them to suggest some times that would work for them.

  4. Be calm, direct, and respectful

    Communicating in a kind but assertive way means that we have to monitor how and what we are saying. It’s important to make sure we are being respectful to the other person, are communicating in a calm manner, and at the same time being direct about what we are asking for.

  5. Practice if you need to

    If you want to try practicing, pick some less emotionally charged situations and practice being calm, direct, and respectful.

I hope these tips are helpful in how to kindly and assertively ask for what you need!

Stay well and healthy and reach out anytime.