If you’re a regular GrownupsNZ reader, you’ll have spotted our recent article on the importance of feeling needed, and how we can carve out this important niche for ourselves. Now we take a look at how you can help others to feel needed. The effort it takes to be compassionate in this way is often tiny, yet the results can be dramatic. So let’s get started!
We are many things – whether it’s a ‘gardener,’ a ‘walker,’ an ‘artist,’, a ‘golfer,’ or a ‘grandparent.’ But our most important ‘handle’ is our very own name. When we use another’s name in such a way as to give them recognition, we imbue them with a sense of belonging and being needed. Next time you’re in a group conversation, use names to make others feel valued. It can be as simple as saying: “Alex was just saying the same thing,” or “Tiffany thinks so, too.”
Don’t miss an opportunity to compliment another in the context of asking for an ‘insider’ tip. If you like an article of clothing, for example, ask where your acquaintance got it from. If you like their hair cut/glasses/dog lead/umbrella etc, draw them out on details about these items. Asking for information lets the ‘other’ feel needed.
Be a borrower
Contrary to what you may have been brought up to believe, it’s OK to be a borrower. In fact, it’s an important part of social connection, while enabling others to feel needed. Keep the borrowing infrequent, and restricted to small, non-monetary items (such as an ingredient you have run out of for baking, or a rain coat or umbrella to see you home on a rainy day), and always return these things as soon as possible.
Ask for an opinion
Who doesn’t feel needed when their opinion is sought out! You can double the value of asking another’s opinion when you do it in public. Next time you’re in a group situation, seek out an opinion from someone you know needs to be needed. Keep it simple (don’t put them on the spot by asking them to solve a world problem!), and be ready to back them up or encourage them if you feel they need it.
When you have a hunch someone has (or has had) an interest in a subject you are becoming interested in, don’t hesitate to ask them for advice. We all too often make the mistake of thinking we have to take advice, when in fact, that doesn’t have to be the case at all. Asking for advice allows another a moment in the limelight, and the opportunity to feel valued.
Seek out company
There is nothing simpler to give than your company, and nothing makes another feel more needed, than asking for company. Instead of asking an isolated friend or family member to your home, ask if you can come to theirs. Any excuse can do – from wanting to escape the house for a break, to the need to fill in time between one appointment and another. Best of all, by going to theirs, you can decide when to leave, so you won’t feel ‘trapped.’ A phone call to a friend can achieve the same results – just be sure to subtly indicate you are making the call for your own sake, not theirs.
The key to helping others feel needed, in an on-going way, is to never let it become a burden to you. If you do, you’ll lose the appetite to continue your good work. Keep your actions small, but know their impact will be mighty!