What are needs anyways? Needs are unmet needs. They are things we crave out of life. If we aren’t aware of them, we will unconsciously work to get them met, often in dysfunctional ways. In the workplace we see this happening all over the place. Some typical needs that get in the way of our happiness at work are the need for control, recognition, respect, order and approval. How does that show up at work? How can we make sure it doesn’t ruin your career? Let’s look at a couple of examples:
A person with a need for respect, may take it to heart when a co-worker isn’t being friendly. They view the unfriendliness as personal when really it has nothing to do with them. Their need for respect hinders their ability to see the situation for what it is. Often this leads to retaliation like hoarding projects, withdrawing or obnoxiously confronting the person.
Another example: someone who has the need for acknowledgement may volunteer for projects even though they are too busy. They may continually offer ideas at meetings even when they are not asked. They may find themselves touting what a great job they are doing and how hard they are working. They are trying to get acknowledged and really they are just projecting insecurity.
Not dealing with our needs makes us unattractive.
Often, we look to get our needs met where they absolutely will not get met. And we engage in this insanity, continually barking up the wrong tree.
So here are some things you can do to get your needs met so they don’t leak out at work:
IDENTIFY YOUR NEEDS
Figure out what your needs are. If you know what your needs are, you can find functional ways to fill them. You can choose people in your life who support you in getting that need met. You can avoid situations where you get triggered. Doing the work to understand your needs is well worth the effort. If you don’t know what your needs are, how can you begin the work to fulfill and heal them?
BRING AWARENESS TO THE NEED
Any unmet need you have is an unhealed part of yourself. After identifying your needs, it’s helpful to examine the ways that you behave to try to get them met. Stepping back and looking at the behaviors we engage in can bring us closer to healing the need. Hiring a therapist can be helpful in understanding the roots of your needs. A coach can help you work through how the need is currently manifesting and assist in developing strategies to work through them.
TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR YOUR NEEDS
It’s not your boss or your co-workers or your direct report’s job to help you get your needs met. You have to take full responsibility for them. There’s a freedom in recognizing that the needs are YOURS. I’ve seen many people identify their needs and begin to handle them and the result is they are much happier at work. They quit blaming others for not treating them the way they think the SHOULD be treated. They begin to recognize that no one is a mind reader and no one can possibly know what it is they need. They don’t feel like a victim anymore. They see that they are part of the problem. To take responsibility for your needs puts you back in the driver’s seat.
MEET YOUR NEEDS
This is a tricky one. Some believe that needs can be met through arranging activities that automatically meet your needs. For example, looking for projects that align with your needs, setting boundaries with people who violate our needs (often difficult to do at work, but it can be done). Affirmations can play a role in helping counteract the limiting beliefs that go along with unmet needs. Connecting to something greater than yourself to turn the need over to can help release it. Be around people who bring out the best in you.
WHAT IF SOMEONE AT WORK IS RUBBING AGAINST MY NEEDS?
Here are some suggestions: Bring awareness to it for yourself and decide to not take it personally. Keep taking action to meet your own needs. Set boundaries around situations that are especially triggering. Realize where you are trying to control or manipulate to get the need met and then let it go. I’ve seen clients that continually put themselves in situations where the KNOW their needs are not going to be met, but they are still trying. It’s like an insatiable urge. KNOWING that the NEED is running you, and not the other way around, you can circumvent it. It may also mean having a conversation with someone to set a boundary.
Hire a coach who knows about NEEDS and how to manage them.It will not only improve your work life- it will extend into the rest of your world.