I remember one Christmas several years ago when I stupidly suggested to my mother that we not exchange gifts anymore. It was like I stabbed her in the heart. I had forgotten how important gift-giving is to my mother, and she was decidedly unimpressed with me.
Have you ever had this happen to you? You’re in a situation and you suggest what appears to be a logical solution and you accidentally set someone’s hair on fire? It could be because you’ve hit one of their hot buttons, specifically the “unmet need” button.
In my situation, I forgot that my mother needs to express her love and affection for her family through gift-giving. It’s a strong love language for her. I on the other hand find receiving gifts to be of no importance at all. In fact, I just took the quiz on www.5lovelanguages.com and it said that I scored zero on “Receiving Gifts.” Zero. Which means that receiving gifts in no way communicates love to me.
This distinct difference in communication style could get us into trouble if one of us wasn’t willing to hear or accommodate the other person’s need. I realized the error of my ways almost immediately with my mom and took the idea of nixing gift giving off the table.
Conflict appears in many different forms, and navigating our closest relationships gives us ample opportunity to notice how unmet needs impact the health of these relationships. Having trouble with a colleague at work? Maybe they have an unmet need in their life that you’re unknowingly exacerbating. Noticing your partner is snitty when they arrive home from work (or exit the makeshift office in your bedroom)? Maybe their suggestions have been dismissed again by an overworked boss.
Challenge for this week: Pay attention to your reactions when you have an unmet need. Identify the unmet need. Then identify how you can respectfully resolve this issue, either on your own or with another person.
Stay curious friends!