Being Aware of What Others Need

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Summer Skill Series: Awareness of Others’ Needs

What is Awareness of Others’ Needs?

The “Golden Rule”—the age-old adage that we’ve all heard a thousand times over—insists that we should treat others as we would want to be treated in return. The principle is simple; we all wish to be treated fairly and with respect, thus should we treat others with fairness and respect.

But first we must acknowledge the little complexity that we all want and need different things. We ourselves might prefer cold, hard facts when trying to reach a decision, but maybe a loved one or colleague requires information conveyed with more feeling and an outline of the potential emotional outcomes.

However, while we all have different needs, we also respond better to those who cater to those needs.

Why is it Important?

Not everyone has identical tolerances, personalities, or tastes (there are, after all, those of us who happily order pineapple on pizza).

To do right by the people in our lives, we can’t just thrust our own preferences on them. We must hear them—really listen to them—and learn exactly what they need and how those needs potentially differ from ours.

Accommodating the needs of others expresses our investment in those relationships, which can strengthen those bonds.

How to Practice Awareness of Others’ Needs:

  1. Read the Room. We must identify who our audience is and what is important to them. What is the energy of the audience or person we’re speaking to? We should adjust our tone to fit within the parameters of the other’s comfort. We must shape our message in a way that resonates with them. Do they more easily grasp numbers or emotions? Even if we favor the opposite, we should compromise for the benefit of the interaction and relationship as a whole.
  2. Ask Questions. Reading the energy of a room might only get us so far. We must next learn through questions. What is important to our loved ones? To our colleagues? To be truly aware of what others need, we must become a student of others. Listen to not only what they say, but how they say it. Inflection might determine importance.
  3. Give without Getting. We shouldn’t automatically expect our own needs to be met in return. The intention is to put our best foot forward to convey that we are willing to invest in the relationship without expectations. By observing those around us, by listening to them and their needs, we become better at communicating and interacting with them.

Those who also wish to strengthen these relationships will, in turn, adjust their behaviors to accommodate our needs as well.

Recommended Content:

Rewarding Kindness, A Bit of Optimism

How to Help Those We Love, The School of Life

Helping Others Makes Us Happier—but it Matters How We Do it, TED Talk

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