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Getting Along with People - Part 1

Emotional Needs - Part 2

Making Friends - Part 3

Constructive Criticism - Part 4

Relationship Skills - Part 5

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Emotional Needs in Relationships


If you have upset someone, consider which of their emotional needs you have trampled upon.

If you complain to a member of staff loudly in front of other staff members then they may feel ‘put down’ (impairment to their sense of status). This would hold true for a teenager in front of their friends.

If you end a four year romance by text message the recipient of your insensitivity may feel angered to receive such news in this way. Why? Because many needs are trampled on:

1 - The need for status (as respected partner, o.k. ex-partner)
2 - The need for proper attention
3 - The need for a sense of control (you try reasoning with a text message!)
4 - The need for intimacy… and so the list goes on.

How to spot which emotional need you have infringed

Of course you may not mean to upset someone but if you do, it will be because some basic need hasn’t been catered for. Here are a few more examples:

‘You’re just not hearing me!’ (the need for attention, intimacy, connection to others, ).
‘I never know where I am with you!’ (the need for safety and security).
‘You should have asked me first!’ (need for status).
‘You shouldn’t have lied to me!’ (The need for safety and security, status, intimacy).
‘You’re really dissing me!’ (The need for status).


Some people will take offence at almost anything. However if you are clear about why people get upset then at least you’ll know why they feel upset, which will tell you something about what is important to them and illuminate their more sensitive areas.

As I’ve said, it’s not always appropriate to consider someone else’s feelings. If you are performing life-saving first aid you may have to scream at people to get out of the way. However once you are clear about emotional needs then you can begin to understand what goes wrong in relationships.

Next, why emotional needs hold the key to making friends...

Back to Relationships and Communication Skills Articles
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Mark Tyrrell
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