13 thoughts on “Do Women Ask for What They Need? A Surprising Finding

  • June 22, 2011 at 9:04 am

    I think some women need to ask for what they need, rather than ‘want’ in some cases (I noticed some women do demand for trivial things from those far less powerful, things so trivial they don’t appreciate the gesture), and to take responsibility for what they want or need (a lot of women do bring children into it, even when the request has nothing directly to do with the children, or they use guilt trips on what the other person ‘should’ be doing or a lot of bullying if they can get away with it). Also, lessons on good ways to assert yourself may be helpful- even quiet, shy people can learn that it’s okay to make a reasonable, polite request. The challenge lies in backing yourself up in a controlled reasonable manner if you get pushed- and that is very hard to do. People need to redefine what an argument is- one definition makes it a fight, another makes it a proposal with claims to support the stance.

  • June 22, 2011 at 9:26 am

    This article is so sad, but absolutely true. I’ve been leading Personal Renewal Groups based on Renee Trudeau’s book, The Mother’s Guide to Self-Renewal for a few years now and when we talk about this theme, it always boils down to the fact that women “don’t think we’re worth it”, we don’t deserve to ask, it’s not really that important, etc. Repeat after me…”you are worth it!”

  • June 22, 2011 at 10:21 am

    Talking of the domestic context,women know instinctively what their husbands or kids want;& they unhesitatingly but their own wishes aside to give happiness to them.Perhaps they secretly wish that others would do the same for them.But this seldom happens.Rather than feeling discontented &disappointed they should learn to voice their feelings. Linda Babcock has very rightly traced this to the conditioning they receive as little girls. I think women need to unlearn that lesson!

  • June 22, 2011 at 4:38 pm

    Great article. I find this a lot in my practice that women use subterfuge and passive-aggressive tactics to get what they want or need, and find it difficult to simply ask directly. I agree that there are cultural biases at work, and hope we can start to shift those biases with the current generation. Love the ending sentiment: “In fact, the safer it is for partners to ask for what they need, the more they can trust a “yes,” live with a “no” and make sense of either – the more fulfilled both will be.”

  • June 22, 2011 at 5:51 pm

    Finding a Balance- thanks for the comment. I really like your recommendation to ask in a way that can be heard and to be prepared to back up your request in a controlled assertive way. When women begin risking putting words to their needs they do need to be prepared for varied reactions – if they believe in themselves they will find an effective way of being heard- Suzanne

  • June 22, 2011 at 5:55 pm

    Micheal Thanks for your comment – yes, the feeling that a woman has to use subterfuge or passive measures to make needs known or express her true feelings rarely works and leaves her often mistakenly thinking – ” You see – it doesn’t pay to let my needs be known.” If women find a way to be clearer and men and women work to make the workplace more equitable – great things can happen for all – Suzanne

  • June 22, 2011 at 5:57 pm

    Induchibber- thanks for your comment – I agree that women ( and probably men also) have to unlearn some of the childhood lessons to risk being authentic and vital adults – Suzanne

  • June 22, 2011 at 7:18 pm

    I wonder if the demarcation line here is really between men and women. Can’t it be that not asking is the mark of a synthetic mind, as opposed to an analytic mind, which can be found among both men and women although perhaps not evenly distributed? I have a synthetic mind and do not ask but just see what accidentally is the case, “just like a woman”. No! Just like someone pioneering his or her way through life, having found rock bottom generation after generation, fighting for his or her mental health and trying to do something about the untruth and corruption all around, not understanding why everybody falls for the grand scale ponzi schemes and cronyism. Trying to get it right if you are a male or hoping for something good if you are a female. That is my take anyway.

  • June 22, 2011 at 8:18 pm

    How does this work out in homosexual relationships, as well as female friends and female/ female work relationships? (It constantly amazes me that lesbian relationships are usually left out of research like this….)

  • June 23, 2011 at 7:59 pm

    Christina: What a valuable question! I would love to see how this plays out in lesbian relationships and their experience of the workplace. Sadly enough what I have heard personally and what research suggests is that some women who ” make it” in the m ale corporate culture can be as critical of a woman’s attempt ( particularly if deemed agressive or emotional)as male counterparts. The take home message for any woman may be to continue to risk authenticity i.e to act like a strong woman instead of ” acting like a man” and keep on reaching even when all the response is not receptive – thanks for contributing to this topic – Suzanne

  • June 25, 2011 at 8:27 am

    Great article. In certain workplaces, it is very difficult to ask for what you need. The mid managers are women and have a difficult time asking for what they need so how can they give you what you need. It is also easier for mid managers not to change things because they fear repercussions in the work place from the public, upper management, or other difficult co-workers.

  • June 25, 2011 at 12:13 pm

    Linda: What a great example of the way that women’s needs in the workplace could go overlooked . Certainly if mid-management can’t ask for what they need – everyone standing behind them suffers – Thanks for expanding the perspective – Suznne


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