Express your need

Express your need
Occupy Wall Street March – October 5, 2011 – NYC

For the last few years I have been fascinated by the idea of personal culture. How people spend their time, how they create their ideas and content and how they represent themselves to a wider world.

My fascination centers on the idea that understanding yourself better helps you ground yourself; by understanding your own needs you become more empathic towards those of others. By doing this, you become less afraid, more courageous and hopeful.

Representing yourself to the world is a tricky business, you have to show your past, present and future, and much of it centers on how you express what you need. Not what you think or what you want but what you need as a person to grow and better understand yourself.

This has led me on a path of researching how people can express what they need. Two books I have found stand out as examples of this idea.

Nonviolent communication by Marshal Rosenberg and Unconditional parenting by Alphie Kohn. While these books on the surface seem to be dealing with very different subject matters they share a core idea of helping people express what they need and creating a vocabulary which is rarely taught. I hope you find the following set of quotes from these books as enlightening and as empowering as I did.



“Former United Nations Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjold once said, “The more faithfully you listen to the voice within you, the better you will hear what is happening outside.” – Marshal Rosenberg

“To focus on children’s needs, and to work with them to make sure their needs are met, constitutes a commitment to taking children seriously. It means treating them as people whose feelings and desires and questions matter.”- Alphie Kohn

“I’ve become convinced that praise is less a function of what kids need to hear than of what we need to say.”- Alphie Kohn

“When we are in contact with our feelings and needs, we humans no longer make good slaves and underlings.”- Marshal Rosenberg

Stating your needs

“There is a story of a man on all fours under a street lamp, searching for something. A policeman passing by asked what he was doing. “Looking for my car keys,” replied the man, who appeared slightly drunk. “Did you drop them here?” inquired the officer. “No,” answered the man, “I dropped them in the alley.” Seeing the policeman’s baffled expression, the man hastened to explain, “But the light is much better here.”- Marshal Rosenberg

“A bit of background may be appropriate here. In our culture’s workplaces, classrooms, and families, there are two basic strategies by which people with more power try to get people with less power to obey. One way is to punish noncompliance. The other is to reward compliance.”- Marshal Rosenberg

“Depression is the reward we get for being “good.”- Marshal Rosenberg

“The most dangerous of all behaviors may consist of doing things “because we’re supposed to.”- Marshal Rosenberg


“My friend Danny recently summarized what he’s learned from years of fatherhood: “Being right isn’t necessarily what matters.” – Alphie Kohn

“Studies in labor-management negotiations demonstrate that the time required to reach conflict resolution is cut in half when each negotiator agrees, before responding, to accurately repeat what the previous speaker had said.”- Marshal Rosenberg

“Listen to what people are needing rather what they are thinking.”- Marshal Rosenberg

“When we listen for feelings and needs, we no longer see people as monsters.”- Marshal Rosenberg


“Expressing our vulnerability can help resolve conflicts”- Marshal Rosenberg

“If we express our needs, we have a better chance of getting them met.”- Marshal Rosenberg

“After all, if we want a child to grow into a genuinely compassionate person, then it’s not enough to know whether he just did something helpful. We’d want to know why” – Alphie Kohn