Desire and Describe with Human Desires Words

Feelings grow in the presence of two catalysts, each very different from the other. On the one hand my feelings may reflect what I am telling myself about a situation. On the other hand my feelings may signal the satisfaction or disappointment of a human need or desire.

First, I will separate what I am telling myself about the situation from the situation itself. Clear logic rules here. "I feel X because I am telling myself he did it to hurt me." "I feel X because I am telling myself I'm better/worse than someone else." "I feel X because I'm telling myself things won't change."

No happening or other person can "make" me feel any certain way. Many of my feelings arise out of what I am telling myself. Therefore my inner talk deserves to be analyzed and chosen well. One way to keep clarity is to examine what needs, desires, and wants of mine gave rise to the feelings.

Second, I will examine myself to discover what I wanted that was or was not achieved or received when the feeling came up. This is not the request, as in, "I wanted him to do X." This is still an effort toward knowing myself better so as to connect better with others and with God.

It may seem that the situation gave rise to the feeling, but I will be smart to ask myself what desire of mine produced the feeling. For quiet strength communication, I find myself often asking me that very important question, "What do you really want?"

If I can acknowledge and deeply connect with my basic human needs, desires, and wants, I will be better able to connect with the basic human needs, desires, and wants of others. I think it is a common human desire to be heard and understood at the level of needs, desires, and wants.

I choose to use the words "desires" and "wants" for the basic, common human motivators, rather than the word "needs." Though I want attention at that level, I refuse to hold anyone hostage to meet my "needs" or be held hostage until another person's "needs" are met.

Don't stop after describing only the situation and the feelings. Stopping here can give the listener the idea that I'm blaming my feelings on the situation.  Defensiveness and return blaming could result.

Don't say any word but "I" after "because." Inserting "you" or "he," "she," or "it" here diverts the listener's attention from the essential point of why I feel the way I feel. In fact, I have decided to purge my speech of any segment that begins "Because you . . ." I suspect it of much deviousness.

Now you're ready to work on column three of the Observation Worksheet. Write some sentences filling the first three columns. You may refer to the list of Common Human Desires. Feel free to add and use words for desires you know to be personally important to you.

Some of the ideas for this article come from these works:

Patterson, Kerry, Joseph Grenny, David Maxfield, Ron McMillan, Al Switzer. Crucial Accountability: Tools for Resolving Violated Expectations, Broken Commitments, and Bad Behavior. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill, 2013.

Patterson, Kerry, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan, Al Switzer. Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking when Stakes Are High. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill, 2002.

Copyright 2014 Wilma Zalabak