Can You Give What They Need?

I walk into their apartment complex lobby on Monday afternoon. I see the posters plastered on the walls, the elevators, the bulletin boards. They say,

Google Fiber is coming! It will be installed in your apartment soon!

Personally, I’d be thrilled if Google Fiber would come to my neighborhood. Our home internet is okay, but it’s never completely dependable.

I wonder if the residents here are excited about it. It only takes a few minutes to find out. Ms. B lets me know what she thinks.

What Do You Need?

Sometimes we don’t know what other people need. If you could provide a service for them, would it be to sign them up for better internet? Bring them a home-cooked meal? Show compassion to their hurts?

Maybe we don’t know what they need because they don’t tell us or we don’t hear them if they do. Maybe we’re too afraid to ask.

Or maybe they don’t know what they need themselves.

Often I’m unsure of what I need. And even less sure about how to ask for it when I do know.

But one think I do know: open communication about our needs is a more sure way of getting them met than hinting, hoping, or silently wishing.

It’s a lesson I’m still learning. I don’t do well articulating my needs to others, or even to myself. But I’m trying to do better. It’s a process.

And I’m trying to do better about hearing what other people need as well, including asking them directly if it’s unclear.

Do They Need Google Fiber?

As I stand outside Ms. B’s door, she lets me know exactly what she thinks about getting Google Fiber.

“We do NOT need Google Fiber! We don’t have any use for it here. But what do we need? Washing machines that work! That’s what we need the most.”

She’s clear. She’s reasonable. She’s vocal.

But I’m not the one to meet her need for working washing machines. I can only bear witness to it.

I wish everyone could receive what they need instead of only what someone wants to give. I assume the city has a contract with Google Fiber and wants to supply it to the residents (that’s a good thing!). It’s just not a service that everyone needs first.

Will the washing machines get fixed at this apartment complex before Google Fiber is installed? Probably not. But it won’t be from a lack of voices expressing the need. I’m glad people like Ms. B can articulate it.

Expressing a need is no guarantee it will be met. But it does increase the likelihood. It’s helpful to be clear about our needs.

Because the thing we request may be the very thing that someone is available to give. And we might not know unless we ask.

Is it hard or easy for you to express your needs? I struggle to ask for help, even when I really need it. Share in the comments.

9 thoughts on “Can You Give What They Need?

  1. Lynn

    When I was in sales, and I had a complaint, one of the techniques I used to defuse the situation was to ask, “What do you need from us solve this issue?” Often, there was a pause before the answer, unsure of what they really needed. I think people don’t expect us to ask them what they need. To be clear why we are upset about an issue, and then ask for what we need is very helpful to the world overall, I think. It is much better than holding a “grumpy” grudge when we don’t get our “unexpressed” needs met. And our needs do matter!

  2. Bettie Gilbert

    I just restarted a medication that was the very first one I tried 9 years ago. It’s such a strange feeling looking back and realizing the uncertainty I felt then. I didn’t even know which questions I should be asking! I am so thankful that God gradually drew those questions out of me. Thank you for this beautiful post today, dear friend. it was just what I needed this morning.

  3. Gina Glennon

    Having just celebrated our 46th wedding anniversary, I have learned to vocalize my needs and desires to my husband. Thankfully I realized pretty early in our marriage that he really could not read my mind after all!

  4. Dianna

    Such a good reminder of how we need to voice our needs, Lisa. I struggle with doing that at times. I’m so guilty of thinking that my husband should know exactly what I need…especially after “hints” I’ve given but he doesn’t seem to pick up on. So, with this post in mind, I will work at doing better about expressing my needs to him.

    But about three weeks ago, I did have a need which was related to my healthcare provider’s organization (but not my healthcare provider). I went through the proper chain to register my need and yesterday I found out that the call I made did indeed make a difference…not only for me, but also for the entire community where the medical facility is located. It was a good lesson for me to learn about stepping outside my comfort zone.

  5. Joanne

    That is such a good point about also knowing what it is that we need; sometimes that’s almost harder to figure out than the actual asking for it.

  6. Jean Wise

    great example and reminder. I wonder how often I really do assume what I need or others need instead of asking/listening to what is really needed. Hope to practice this today and onward.

  7. Corinne Rodrigues

    There’s so much to learn from this post, Lisa. I often assume that I know what people need – and may be far off the mark! I find this to be especially true about my relationship with my husband. You’ve made me reflect and think, as always!

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