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  • Ricka Robb Kohnstamm

How does the desire to meet your own needs keep you from recognizing that same desire in others?

If you pay close attention, you can link most of your daily behaviors to getting your own needs met... the need for transparency or adventure or consideration or to belong, to feel included, to feel relaxed and competent, to experience structure, to matter, to find meaning.

We start with physical and safety needs, and then move into social, ego and self-actualization, which is all great and good.

But what happens to your need for predictability and trust and safety when your partner says they are finished following COVID restrictions and starts meeting colleagues inside restaurants, without masks?

Or your need for agency and spontaneity when your child reveals something that changes everything?

Or your need for shared purpose and competence when your board member doesn't embrace your vision?

Instead of feeling trapped or resentful, consider those perceived barriers to be fuel for deeper understanding about yourself and others.

Consider these four things...

Reframe your lens from "obstructionist" to "getting needs met". It is natural to assume that others are purposely thwarting your progress, dismissing your needs, dropping the ball, not hearing you, or being evasive. But that is a created story that protects your desire to get your own needs met. It is easy to cling protectively to that story. As you step up and back into your higher mind, however, recognize that the other person is working (perhaps as hard as you are) to get their own needs met. And their needs are most likely different than yours.

Getting your needs met doesn't preclude others from getting their needs met. Yes, you can work to meet your need to be deeply heard by the senior colleague who doesn't read email and is thinking 40,000 miles ahead of most other people, while at the same time recognizing, and working to meet, their need for spontaneity and transparency. By increasing your sight lines, you can identify what you need AND what the other person needs and then increase possible options. Both/And.

Conversely, others getting their needs met doesn't mean you can't or won't. And yes, through increased awareness, you may start to recognize that getting needs met is not a zero sum game. Sometimes other's needs come first. Frame your thoughts from a place of confidence and generosity. Slow down, pause, breathe, notice. Is your child interrupting your work because she needs emotional safety after a rough and tumble day? Is your partner going over the vacation option list for the umpteenth time not to annoy you but because they are seeking alignment and a shared vision? The more spacious you become in your framing, the more options you have. Both/And.

"Both/And" is a strength-based strategy. Relationships with colleagues, with partners, with families, with children are strengthened with a both/and approach. "I will listen deeply for your needs and do what I can to meet them, while also defining and owning my own needs." Then walk your talk. Listen for other's needs, own your own without making it someone else's job to meet them, expand the possibilities that there is enough for everyone.

Actions, aligned with values, support optimal health.


Hello, I'm Ricka.

Ricka Kohnstamm Executive & Physician Coach Profile Photo

I'm a Nationally Board Certified (NBC-HWC) Integrative Health and Wellbeing Coach. I specialize in working with physician leaders, corporate leaders, non-profit executives and their families to navigate complex work and personal issues so they can strengthen their relationships, heal, and feel hopeful about the future again. 



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