How appreciated do you feel in your relationships? Whether it’s a partner, a colleague, a family member or a friend, we all need to feel valued. We want to know that the other people in our life care enough about us to pay attention to our needs.
The problem is that when that isn’t happening, we tend to focus on just that. We point out what we don’t want.
“Don’t Want” is normal
Human beings are naturally driven to put their attention on what they don’t want. It’s a basic survival mechanism. Once upon a time, if your ancestor was being chased by a wild animal, they knew they didn’t want to wait around to be eaten! They also knew that they didn’t want to pick the wrong fruit and be poisoned. So there’s nothing basically wrong with “Don’t Want.”
But when it comes to our relationships with others, this don’t want attitude doesn’t help – in fact, it tends to push them away and can make us seem like a nag.
So what’s the answer?
Well, it’s simple really. We need to remember to focus on what we do want instead of what we don’t. When we put our attention on what we do want, we enter into a state of connection and attraction (do) rather than disconnection and repelling (don’t). The state of do means we will naturally pull something towards ourselves.
As I often suggest to my clients, when we take this do want attitude and use it in our communication with others – well, life suddenly becomes a whole lot easier!
Deep down we all want to connect and to feel happy. So when we focus on connection and positive outcomes, we draw others into that energy space with us; they feel good and are far more likely to respond in helpful and optimistic ways.
Here are some examples:
DON’T WANT I wish you wouldn’t ignore me when I’m speaking to you!
DO WANT I really appreciate it when you take the time to listen to me.
DON’T WANT Why is it always me that has to clear up the mess?
DO WANT When you help with that, it gives us more time together
DON’T WANT You never call.
DO WANT It’s great to hear from you, it’s always good to hear your voice.
DON’T WANT You always start talking about this when I’m half asleep!
DO WANT I can see it’s important; when’s a good time tomorrow to discuss it?
DON’T WANT Why am I always last on your list?!
DO WANT When you make me a priority, it feels great.
So my challenge to you is to practice “do wants” with the people in your life and notice how much more receptive they are to your needs.
I hope you find these tips and skills helpful. This post is part of the free communication skills course on
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