Thank You For Being a Friend

Have you ever wondered why you have the friends you have? I am sure some friends are closer than others. Why? The theory I want to present is we have the friends we do because they meet our needs. Sounds simple enough doesn’t it. We have friends because they “hear” us, “understand” us, “love” us. We can think of all kinds of needs that are met by using the strategy of being with “friends”, people who meet our needs. If this is true, and I think it is, then why do we change friends? I have very few friends I had when I was younger. Many that I was close to in high school or even college I never contact or speak with. Why? Of course there are various factors that come into play such as moving, changing views, etc. but why no contact. As needs change so do friends. Now take a moment to understand this. We all have the same needs all the time, but some needs take priority in our lives and situations. Maybe you have been in the situation where you had a friend who needed to talk with someone about a very private situation – during that time you were with them, you listened to them, you even got pretty close to them because the situation was very personal and private. Then after the situation passes, you don’t seem as close as you were before. Needs change – relationships change.


About a decade ago, my wife Heather and I were very close to a couple. They were our “Best Good Friends.” We golfed together, ate together, even vacationed together. Then our relationship changed. They moved away and Heather and I changed our ideology on certain things of life. We have not really spoken in several years. Why? It is not because we hate each other, not because someone “did” something. No, it is because needs changed. The need of ease, maybe, the need of community, both of us wanting to be with those who “thought” the way we did. Who knows, but needs changed. I know this because if needs did not change or needs were not being met in another way, we would still be as close as we were before.


I believe this theory comes into play in the work place as well. I work at a place that documents progress of goals of the participants who attend our program. Now, it is pretty simple to document if a person meets a goal, however, the “subjective” aspect comes into play when documenting if the person is “appropriate” while at the program. Do they do things as the program thinks they should in the manner the program thinks they should? The ones who have a glowing report are the ones who meet the needs of the one doing the documenting. In other words I like “so and so” because he never causes any trouble (ease), I like “so and so” because he will do what I ask him to do, (ease). I like “so and so” because he doesn’t need a lot of attention (ease). See how it works? The ones who make my job easier, allows me to have integrity, competency, etc. get the “good” reports, and I like working with them more than those who are the opposite. I like to work with those who seem to want to contribute to me. Those who are the opposite simply do not contribute to me meeting my needs and I don’t like working with them or even being around them.


The real opportunity is to understand the needs are being met in the relationship. Why are you with the people you are with? Through NVC we are able to gain that understanding, we are able to connect to the needs being met through the relationship and celebrate that relationship. Through NVC we are able to meet our needs and the needs of those we are in relationship with – to quote Dr. Marshall Rosenberg, connecting with each other is “the language of life.”

Mark Schlessman

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