What stops us from asking for what we need? Here are a few thoughts… 

  • Our needs are whirling around our minds, and we’ve not taken the time to put them into words 
  • We are so used to prioritising the needs of those around us, that it feels alien to do this for ourselves 
  • We see it as a sign of weakness, a sign that we’re not coping 
  • The D I F F I C U L T conversation – or what we anticipate to be difficult – sometimes assuming the outcome before we even try 
  • The rhetoric for mothers is that our needs sink into the background when we have little people to raise 
  • Wondering what people might think of us for asking 

Start in a safe place – your partner, a family member, a close friend. You’ve got that niggling feeling in your gut that’s saying – I need something.  

Start with an acknowledgement of how you’re feeling: 

I’m feeling ……….. 

And so I’ve been thinking about what I might need for myself.  

What I need for myself is ………………….. 

I really appreciate your support  


I’m feeling absolutely exhausted this week and so I’ve been thinking about what I might need for myself to feel better.   

I need a couple of quiet, early nights and so I wondered if we could postpone dinner to next Thursday instead, please?  

I really appreciate your support.  

The temptation here is to profusely apologise.  

You don’t need to apologise for asking for what you need, politely and thoughtfully.  

Example at work: 

I’m feeling really excited by the direction the project is going in, however, the pace is completely overwhelming at the moment and so I’ve been thinking about what I need for myself to feel successful and in control.  

I need to block out some time each week for me to have enough time to complete the stakeholder communication and I’d really appreciate if you could refrain from putting any meetings into that time I will protect, please?  

I really appreciate your support.  

A Harvard Business Review article, Ask for What You Need at Work, by Deborah Grayson Reigel advises us to make requests, not demands. “A demand is something to which the other person feels obligated to say yes, whereas a request is something to which the other person can say “yes,” “no,” or make a counter-offer. It allows for dialogue, flexibility, and compromise. It also shows consideration for the other person’s needs, values, and interests, and gives them an out.” 

This article was written by Deanne Logan, a maternity, motherhood, leadership and wellbeing coach, advocate for mental health, and L&D consultant. You can get in touch with Deanne at https://www.careeringintomotherhood.com/coach/deanne-logan/