Those Bastards Need To Get A Grip

Those Bastards Need To Get A Grip

I see many, many people projecting their needs onto others. And most often with no awareness that they’re doing that. Or of the consequences.

Examples of Projecting Needs

Here are some examples which might help clarify what I’m talking about:

“My son needs to clear up his room.” No, he probably doesn’t need to do that, from his point of view. More likely the parent needs him to clean up his room. And maybe that’s because the parent has an (unmet) need to live in an orderly, clean house.

“Politicians need to stop lying.” No, they don’t. If they did need to do that, they would do that. More likely the speaker has an (unmet) need for politicians to be more open, transparent, honest, or whatever.

“Minorities need to stop whingeing and suck it up.” No, they don’t need to do that. From their perspective, they probably have a whole bunch of needs they feel are not getting met. And in this case, the speaker probably doesn’t need them to “to stop whingeing and suck it up”, either. More likely the statement is a proxy for some deeper need that the speaker is not even aware of. Maybe he or she needs some special consideration themself, and feels that others (said minorities) getting attention and special consideration is detracting from their own need.


Would you be willing to consider the possible consequences of framing your needs in terms of things you believe other people “should” be doing?

–  Bob

Further Reading

Speak Peace In A World Of Conflict ~ Marshall B. Rosenberg

  1. Nick said:

    Should is a dangerous word. Up there with can’t. I’d like to read Rosenberg reference.

  2. Is there really a ‘need’ of somebody to do something for another? I remember one psychology class I attended and the teacher told us that: “You don’t need to do anything, it’s all about stating your expectations against a certain action”. Then she taught us how to rephrase everything and not use the word ‘need’ anymore.
    It was a moment of revelation that you can achieve much more without literally needing it!

  3. Okay, I understand and I’m willing to rephrase my statements, but pooooohhh that’s hard.
    Can you help me out with this one (l’ll keep it short)?
    “I think that managers should pay more attention to human needs”.

    Then what is my underlying need in this?

    • Hi Anko,

      Not too sure I can help greatly via this medium, but I’ll give it a go.

      Can you help me get started by describing an occasion when you saw or heard something which triggered these thoughts?

      BTW You may also like to try the Nonviolent Communication (NVC) four-step process to surface needs, yourself:
      1) Observation(s): Say what you’ve seen (or heard) – absent any evaluation or judgment
      2) Feelings: What feelings have those observations triggered in you?
      3) Needs: What do those feelings suggest about needs of yours that are/were not getting met?
      4) Request: What (refusable) request(s) would you like to make that might see your needs met, and of whom might you make those requests?


      – Bob

  4. Tobias said:

    Love this post. Thank you.

  5. Here’s an example from a recent situation I encountered as an Agile coach.

    Manager asks the Scrum team to hop into a room to see how things are going. He is talking is quickly, asking several questions qithout really listening to (or understanding of) the answers people give. After like 10 minuts, his final question is “So, things are going well?”… and then there is silence…

    Now my perception is that he is not meeting their needs by no listening and really understanding their answers.
    What is my deeper need then?

    Ah, I guess: Safety, harmony, alignment?

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