If you’ve never felt any form of dissatisfaction from your interpersonal interactions, raise your hand! Dissatisfaction is not an unfamiliar emotion with most of my readers. Hey, that’s why you’re reading my blog posts to step up your interpersonal satisfaction!
Anyway, I can empathize with you. It’s been a long, long struggle for most of us since we were born to find lasting satisfaction. Some go the religious route, some throw themselves into work, others become hedonists.
However, has it occurred to you that the nature of your interpersonal communication can make you feel dissatisfied?
Yeah, I thought so. This is why I want to make reading this post on satisfaction worth your while.
First things first, do you even know what you need? Yeah, humans need food, clothing, and shelter. Apart from that, has it occurred to you that there are emotional and psychological needs universal to the human being? Remember in my previous post on Master Mind, I noted that none of us is as unique as we would like to think?
Nah, I sure didn’t mean to deflate your ego. I just wish to impress upon you the similarities in the human being that cut across all cultures. These similarities manifest in various forms, but the core is essentially the same. One similarity universal to the human being, according to The Centre For Nonviolent Communication are our needs. Our needs are similar, just that the strategy we use to get them satisfied differ and sometimes clash.
I took some time off to practice the methods explained by the brilliant founder of the Centre For Nonviolent Communication, Dr. Marshall Rosenberg. I am pleased to tell you, Dear Reader, that the results are impressive.
From what I have been able to understand, people feel a lot of anger, dissatisfaction, hate, fear when their needs aren’t met by a particular person in a particular situation. I know, I know, some of you are wondering Isn’t it rather entitled and dependent of someone to want a human being to meet his needs?
The truth is we are all interdependent! None of us can thrive in isolation. This is evidenced by the fact that most people would do anything to be in the good books of their family (or friends, colleagues, church members). It is normal to want someone to meet your needs: after all, why are you interacting with him, to begin with?
Dying to know what comes next? Chill! I’m getting to it.
In getting my needs met and being satisfied with my interpersonal interactions, I have followed a 4-step method that has worked for me. It will probably work for you if you give it a try. Here it goes…
- Accept that all humans have the same needs, just our methods of getting them satisfied differ and conflict with each other!
It might sound audacious to make such an assertion, but when you read the needs inventory, you will realize the truth of what I mean. The only thing is that some human beings repress and disown these needs because they have been unmet for so long. This makes them chase after shadows, looking for the next high to make them feel pleasure.
Unfortunately, if your needs aren’t met, pleasure is going to be temporary. This is why some people become malcontents, perpetually dissatisfied.
- It is impossible to get your real needs met when you hold the other party in contempt.
Some of you may be familiar with the self-other construct in psychology. I understand it to mean the way you view others also influences how you will respond to them. If you see someone as boring, your interest wanes. When you see a person as trustworthy, you are more likely to be honest, and less likely to be cynical.
In like manner, it helps to see a human being as someone with needs (see needs inventory), who is similar to you but different in his strategy for getting them met. When your needs aren’t articulated, you are more likely to see the other person who doesn’t meet them in a bad light. This leads us to the third point;
- To get your needs met and feel satisfaction, it is totally unnecessary to resort to shame, guilt, and fear-inducing tactics.
You have a need. Or several needs. It seems like someone is standing in your way of getting these needs met. Out of the feeling of frustration, you resort to devaluing him in a bid to get your needs met. You call him selfish, lazy, weak, careless… anything!
True that this method may work but after some time, it will yield rebellion, servility (for those who praise equality, this is a most undesirable state to put another human being in), and resentment.
So how do you get your needs met without resorting to shame, guilt, and fear-inducing tactics? Recognize that the other person has needs too. A more detailed explanation of this will come later in this post.
- In negotiating for your needs, the outcome is unknown.
I am aware that this sounds counterintuitive: after all, don’t we all know that when we make a request the answer is either Yes or No? Unfortunately, this Black and white thinking results from most people confusing the strategy used to get the need met with the need itself.
This is why so many people resort to manipulation, become passive, yielding and resentful in interpersonal interactions. However, an understanding of the principles explained in the Nonviolent Communication philosophy will help you be more assertive, compassionate and improve your emotional intelligence. I’ll give you an example.
I live with my Mum, who loves entering my room without my permission to change my pillowcase, dust the windows, and arrange my shoes. At other times, she would make Cranberry tea for me to drink, and nag me until I drink it.
This, coupled with many other incidents in the home were driving me up the wall. Maman et Hailey got into so many fights that sounded like this.
Mum: Hailey, close your room windows, there’s so much dust in the air. And come here for your cup of cranberry tea.
Hailey: Oh, No, Mum! Can’t you just give me some breathing space? I turn 27 this year and I know how to take care of my own room. I don’t need you to tell me what to do. Your helpful advice is making me feel helpless and incompetent!
Mum: The problem with you, Hailey is that you are a dirty pig, ungrateful and rebellious. I pray you don’t have a child that talks back at you the way you do with me.
These sort of exchanges went on at home for many years, until Hailey read up on nonviolent communication. Here’s how scenario went after her reading.
Mum: Hailey, close your windows, there’s so much dust in the air and I don’t want to start coughing. Also take your cup of Sobo (Hibiscus tea) from the dining table.
Hailey: Mum, I know you have a need for order in the home, that’s why you want me to close my bedroom window. However, I want them open. Is there any way we can satisfy your need for order, keeping everywhere organized without closing my room window?
Mum: Well, I guess you can have your cup of Zobo. Thank you for understanding why I want your room windows closed.
Hailey: I also want to thank you for making me a cup of Zobo. I’m grateful because it meets my need for safety (health safety.)
Mum: You are welcome, my beautiful daughter.
From this real-life interaction at home, it is easy to see just how improved our interactions have become. World peace is drawing nearer to me, funny!
You may have seen my post on values-based living. This is an improvement on values-based living because values that don’t meet your needs are just morals, the received wisdom of the society. Interweave your needs with your values-based decisions and watch your life take on a new meaning!
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