Bring your life into balance

Empathy works. It always does.

The need behind the no

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You want to ask for a raise. You have been working in this job for several years, and you know you add value. You want appreciation for the unique qualities you bring to your clients, you want acknowledgment for the results you’ve created, and you want support for your financial sustainability.

You feel anxious even thinking about it. You feel scared they’ll say ‘no’. You feel afraid you won’t get support for your needs, because they don’t really care about you. You ask, they say ‘no’, and that’s it. Done and finished. Thank you so much, and goodbye.

Gosh, asking certainly has been a challenge for me. I often skipped the asking part, went straight into demands or into disconnection, too afraid to hear ‘no’.

In the Mediate Your Life retreat we did a very helpful exercise: ‘the need behind the no’. You express your feelings and needs and make a present-tense, action-oriented, positive-language request. Your practice partner says ‘no’. If you are triggered, you can move to the mediator chair and do a self-connection practice. As soon as you are calmer, you ask your partner which needs would be unfulfilled if they would say ‘yes’. And then you invite them to think of something that would support those needs and your needs.

To you it probably sounds as simple as 1+1=2. For me it was an eye-opener. Invite your partner to work with you on finding strategies that work for everyone. Not just for them, not just for you, but for everyone. Make it a collaborative effort, a mutual partnership to nurture all underlying, human needs. What a shift from thinking that I alone was responsible for figuring it out. What a change from thinking that it was either/or.

Let’s apply this insight right away. With you.

When I imagine you’re reading this blog, I feel tender, shy and happy, as my needs for appreciation, connection and to be known for my work are being met. My request is that you sign up as a follower of my blog to nourish these needs. If you have already done so, I ask you to share my blog with someone else. If you say ‘no’ to my request, which needs do you think would be unmet by saying ‘yes’? And what do you think would work better to support both our needs?

I would love to read/hear your response! (And I want to acknowledge how tender I feel just asking. I imagine I am not the only one who feels vulnerable when asking. There is a rawness of the open heart when we share what we truly want.)


You want to learn to work with the need behind the ‘no’? Contact me 512-589-0482. I would be humble to work with you.

Author: Elly van Laar

I am a coach. I specialize in helping mission-driven professionals bring their lives into balance. I have a Master's degree in Political Science, Leiden University, the Netherlands. I'm currently in an ICF-coaching certification program. I love meditation, walking, gardening, biking, and hanging out with family and friends.

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