Have you ever experienced the frustration of seeking out someone you trust to help you navigate a difficult situation only to leave the conversation feeling misunderstood? William Glasser’s model for understanding behavior can help us avoid these exasperating situations, whether you are the person seeking support, or when someone may be looking to you for help.
William Glasser explains that there are four parts to behavior: what we are thinking, how we are acting, what we are feeling, and what is happening physically in our body. (See my previous post “My Behaviour Car” for a great tool to teach this concept to children). Whenever we are in a difficult situation, you can easily identify what you, or the person you are trying to assist, needs by asking these simple questions based on these parts of our behaviour:
Do I need to consider my perspective on this situation, and perhaps find another way to think about this problem?
Do I need to take action, and figure out what to do?
Am I needing to just vent my feelings right now?
Do I need to focus on my physical self right now? Do I need to sleep, eat, or get some fresh air or exercise before I do anything else?
Think about a difficult problem you’ve faced in your life. When you consider these questions, your gut will clearly respond to the question that hits on your present need.
When we get frustrated that people aren’t helping us, it’s often because there is a mismatch between what we need and what people are giving us. They are giving advice on what to do, when you really just want them to listen to how you are feeling. Or they may be trying to help you analyze and think about the situation when you really just want to know what action to take.
Simply asking people the question, “If I were being helpful to you right now, what would I be doing?”, or being clear with those we are asking for assistance by saying “What I really need from you right now is…” can ensure that this mismatch is avoided, and that we can all be truly helpful to one another in our times of need.