Oftentimes, we think we shouldn’t have to tell others what we need or want. They should just know, right? Our spouses should know that we need them to hug us often, tell us we are loved many times a day, and to do random acts of kindness for us. Our kids should know that we want them to tell us thank you for all of those lunches we pack, dinners we cook, and soccer games we drive them to. Our parents should know that we want our space and to be able to hear their opinions but still feel like we are able to make our own decisions. Our co-workers should know that we need those reports done today or else we are going to feel overwhelmed and have to stay late to finish our work later this week. Or, they should know that we want to be a part of that specific project because we feel like we have great qualifications and skills to contribute on it.

Sure, it makes sense that we need and want these things and it really feels like others should know what we need and want just based on the fact that they know us. Nonetheless, the reality is that if we are really going to get our needs and desires met, we will often have to say them aloud. I have talked with some women before about how they could help their husbands out simply by telling them what makes them feel loved whether it be a kiss when they first come home for work, or helping out with getting the dishes done or kids bathed, or sending them a short email just to say hi during the day. Many times, these women have responded by saying, “Well, he should just know what I need.” Sure, maybe he knows you really well and he “should” know what you like, but how many times have you really talked about what means the most to you and helps you feel loved?

I remember very clearly learning that I should tell my mother thank you for things such as cooking dinner for us each evening after working all day. I remember it had been a long week for her and she was exhausted and one day she just said through her tears of frustration, “You guys never tell me thank you for the dinners I cook.” I learned that day how important it was to her to say, “thank you.” It wasn’t that she didn’t want to cook dinner for us kids, it was simply that those two words helped her to feel that she was valued. From then on, I said thank you for the dinners she cooked and many other “small” things that she did for us. I learned that, “thank you” means a lot to her.

I have heard many instances in which teenagers and adult children have felt that they wanted their parents to provide a listening and supportive ear, rather than an exact solution to their problems. Yet, they have not told their parents that is what would help them most. Maybe parents should recognize that is what their kids need in those moments, but that may not be the pattern of relating the parent is used to. I think in those situations, it doesn’t hurt for kids to help parents out a little bit and tell their parents how they can be most helpful.

Similarly, I have heard about many work situations where needs and wants were going unmet simply because they weren’t expressed. So much frustration could have been avoided if the person who needed others to finish their work so that he could get his work done, had explained what he needed and when he would need it in order to do his work. Or, the person who wanted to be involved with a particular project had expressed that desire to her supervisor.

This is not to say that every need and desire of your heart will be met if you express those feelings to others. No human is capable of fulfilling all of your needs and wants, and inevitably, others will still let you down. Nonetheless, you can get a lot of your wants and needs fulfilled simply by expressing them to others. Look to approach others without blaming them for past shortcomings – after all, maybe you never really told them this is what you wanted/needed. Rather, approach others by being honest about how you feel and helping them to see how meeting these wants and needs could really help you and improve your relationship with them. I think many times, you will find that others were willing and happy to help, they were simply unaware of how much those things meant to you.