Want to Get Noticed? Here’s How

Do you ever feel like you blend in too much? Or feel as though you don’t stand out from the crowd?

Would you like more positive attention? Here’s how to get noticed by others and stand out from the crowd!

Many of us worry we’re not differentiating or distinguishing ourselves at work or in our social circles. As humans, we crave positive attention. While our self-worth doesn’t only come in the form of praise and acknowledgment from others, those accolades certainly feel good!

If you’re craving attention, here’s how to stand out and be seen!

Why We’re Hesitant to Let Our Light Shine

People yearn for attention (to be seen), but many times we may feel invisible, or like we don’t matter. We may feel like it’s not appropriate to “go for it” or by putting ourselves out there, we’re “too much,” “too loud,” or “too self-centered.”

But getting positive attention is an essential part of meeting our yearnings. Yearnings are universal longings all people share. For example, most people yearn to be respected; they yearn to be loved, to matter, to have a purpose, to be seen, and heard.

These yearnings are powerful—more potent than simple desires or wants. These are the longings of our souls. They drive us and shape our choices. By getting our yearnings met, we gain a greater sense of fulfillment, satisfaction, and joy.

Affirmation and validation are vital for all of us. We all yearn for attention and to be seen by others in a positive light.

Why, then, are so many of us hesitant to let our light shine? It comes back to what psychologists refer to as mistaken beliefs. We may believe what we say doesn’t really matter. Or we may feel no one cares what we say or do. We may think, “I’m not that important,” or, “I’m not special.”

These mistaken beliefs are deeply rooted in our psyche. We’ve carried them around with us since childhood. So, it’s not something we get over or switch off in an instant. For most people, it takes years to work through their mistaken beliefs.

You see, as we’ve told ourselves these misconceptions and myths over the years, we’ve sought confirmation of these negative thoughts. We then behave in a way that reinforces our beliefs.

For example, if you believe what you say isn’t important, you may speak quietly, decide not to raise your hand, slump your shoulders, and keep your eyes cast downward. When you walk in a room with that posture, you’re sending a message to those around you—I’m shy. I’m quiet. I keep to myself. I don’t demand to be heard.

And how do those around you respond? They receive the message and reflect it back to you. They continue to overlook you in a way that continuously reinforces your mistaken beliefs. Your beliefs then become what we call a self-fulfilling prophecy.

While we won’t break out of our self-fulfilling prophecy right away, by acting with confidence and putting ourselves out there to get noticed, we will get the positive attention we crave. Attracting positive feedback helps us reverse our mistaken beliefs rather than reinforcing them.

Change the Narrative and Start to Get Noticed

Getting positive attention is a good thing. Even though we have mistaken beliefs that get in the way, the truth is, we all need positive attention.

Part of getting attention is to really let yourself shine. You’ve probably heard the saying, “fake it ’till you make it.” This advice applies really when it comes to attracting positive attention.

Instead of slumping around in clothes that make you feel ho-hum, see what happens when you dress up for the day. You’ve heard the advice, “dress for your next promotion.” See what happens when you put it to the test!

Yesterday, I had on a dress with a bright-colored scarf. I was surprised to have several people stop me on the street and tell me how lovely my outfit was. I went for a walk on my break, and a woman stopped me right there in the middle of downtown Chicago, and said, “Wow! You look amazing! I love your outfit!”

Now, it might have been a flattering color, and it was definitely a vibrant scarf, but if it had been a ratty sweatshirt in the same tone, would I receive the same reaction?

Truthfully, I put a lot of thought and care into how I dress. I take time to put my outfits together in a way that helps me feel confident and stylish. People were giving me positive attention and being very kind, but it was because I’d set myself up to get noticed.

You don’t need to make a big show of it, either. Simply taking time to invest in yourself, care for yourself, and plan your look, makes a huge difference. It’s not because society is full of shallow people who judge you on your look. It’s because you will feel more confident and carry yourself with greater confidence and esteem when you look pulled together.

We often see this story on popular makeover shows these days. Over a few days, the person is transformed with new outfits, makeup, and hairstyles. The reality is, they’re still the same person underneath, but the difference is in the way they’ve invested in their care. Having someone affirm they’re worth the effort often has a considerable impact. They carry themselves with confidence and feel better because they too see, “I’m important. I deserve care!” You don’t need to star on a makeover show to flip the narrative on your self-worth.

Get Attention by Giving Attention!

If you want to attract attention, remember it’s a two-way street. We draw attention in when we give attention to others. That means serving people, striking up a conversation, reaching out, and expressing interest in others. We all have something to offer.

Each person matters and is a gift to the world—including YOU! We have great worth and influence. When we tap into our personal power, we create a ripple effect of goodness.

So, think about what you have to offer. Each of us has a unique perspective on the world. Maybe you’re a good listener. Perhaps you have a wonderful sense of humor. Maybe you’re creative and excellent at expressing yourself through art. The more we offer and share our gifts with the world, the better. Other people notice and they will let you know.

When someone sees you and affirms you, really take it in. Don’t let compliments slide off you (or prime yourself only to hear the negative feedback). Take in positive attention and let it warm you.

When you catch yourself holding back, or hesitating on sharing your ideas, push yourself to share. Speak up and contribute! If you want positive attention, you might even need to ask for it.

One of our students decided to ask their social media circle, “What do you like about me?” They were amazed when their Facebook feed was filled with such nice compliments and accolades. They were also amazed that not one person said it was “weird” to ask the question. In fact, some of their friends asked their circle the same question, as well. Our student decided to keep this list to re-read every time he felt down or low.

Another friend, who runs a newsletter blog, mentioned he was having a really dark time and was feeling quite down. He was amazed at the loving responses that flooded his inbox.  He said he wasn’t even seeking positive attention at the time; he was trying to explain to his audience why he hadn’t been writing as much. He felt so affirmed by the unexpected response that it really lifted him up.

If you want to attract positive attention, remember you have plenty to offer others. Maybe you don’t feel great about yourself—you might have a bad day or even a bad week, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have anything significant to offer. So, when you need those affirmations, don’t feel afraid to ask others for feedback. Say, “I’m feeling down right now, could you remind me of my talents,” or “could you give me positive feedback?”

Challenge yourself to speak up when you go into situations. Work the room! Dress and act in a way that projects confidence, even if you aren’t feeling self-assured. You may also want to challenge yourself by saying, “I’m going to speak up twice in this meeting!” or “I’m going to talk to two strangers on my way to work.”

Attracting positive attention is something we can all do. It’s perfectly okay to fake it until you make it. Start acting confident, and you may be surprised at how confident you begin to feel!

For more ideas on nurturing yourself, visit the Wright Foundation. Join us for an upcoming More Life Training, where you’ll connect with others on their transformational journey. Don’t miss the chance to download our courses online. We’re thrilled to offer them at a special introductory price. This is a great opportunity to learn more about yourself and your world!

The Wright Foundation for the Realization of Human Potential is a leadership institute located in Chicago, Illinois. Wright Foundation performative learning programs are integrated into the curriculum at Wright Graduate University.

Networking Ideas if You Work from Home

You know the importance of connecting with others.

Feeling isolated? Finding networking ideas if you work from home is challenging. Here's how to find more chances to make meaningful connections.

You’ve learned how engaging with those around you helps you find new opportunities, make discoveries, and live a life of adventure and fulfillment.

But what do you do if you don’t work in a traditional 9-5 job? Is networking only for those who go to the office each day? Or only for those who work in the business world?

Not at all! Everyone can learn to connect and engage with those around them. Here’s how to network with others, even if you work from home!

We All Need Human Connection

“I feel like I’m losing my mind!” said Stacy, a young mom who I was working with. “Ever since I started consulting from home after the baby was born, I just feel so…lonely! Yes, I talk to my baby daughter all the time, but she doesn’t talk back yet. Most of my client interactions are online or occasionally over the phone. I feel like I’ve forgotten how to talk to people.

Stacy’s problem is one faced by many folks who don’t work in a traditional job. These days, with mobile office work being accessible and in-fashion, it seems none of us ever need to leave the comfort of our laptop. Add in social media, and we may feel as though there’s no need to interact with others.

However, humans need social interaction to survive and thrive. Studies have shown the importance of having a social network (in real life), even the importance of loose social ties like your barista, uber driver, or your pals at the gym. These connections help broaden our circle of influence. They offer us essential connections and opportunities for engagement.

If you work from home or have limited social interaction, it certainly doesn’t mean those connections aren’t still as vital to your wellbeing. In fact, cultivating those social ties is even more critical.

As I advised Stacy, we must honor our need to engage and our yearning to be seen and heard by other people. Yearnings are universal longings all humans share. Human connection is a common yearning; we yearn for closeness with others.

Now, Stacy could cultivate connections by spending time with her husband, making time for friends, becoming involved in classes, attending networking events, and volunteering in the community. She could even turn it into a game by seeing how many people she could engage with during her day. Could she strike up a conversation with other moms at the park? Could she engage with the barista at Starbucks?

Since her time was limited—balancing caring for an infant, responding to clients, and keeping up with her daily tasks—we discussed the importance of maximizing her engagement when she found the opportunity to connect with other adults.

Engagement Exists on a Continuum

When we think of engagement, picture it across a spectrum or continuum. On one side, there’s a superficial type of engagement. These are interactions like, “How’s the weather?” or “What about the Cubs?”

On the other side, we have in-depth, transformative engagement. These are the huge, transformational conversations where we’re connecting, not just about our relationship with the other person, but the world-in-general.

Now, not every interaction will fall on the transformational end of the spectrum, but the stronger our engagement with others, the more the interaction feeds and nourishes our soul. If you’re starving for deeper connections, you must make each interaction count.

How do you engage with others? Engagement comes not just from talking with someone, or even from being a great listener.

Engaging with others comes from seeing the other person for who they are. It’s seeing their truth and understanding what they’re yearning for.

Bob often likes to strike up a conversation with waitstaff and those in the checkout line by asking them what their dreams and goals are. At first, people seem taken aback, like, “Why the heck is this stranger asking me these questions?” But then the conversation progresses, and suddenly they’re building a great rapport. Bob has made many friends and beautiful connections this way.

Studies found that positive engagement with others makes a difference in our day. One study challenged people riding the “L” in Chicago to talk to someone on their commute; another group was challenged to ignore everyone around them. The people who didn’t need to speak to anyone predicted they would have a better commute. The people who were asked to engage thought it was going to feel awkward and uncomfortable, but the outcome was the complete opposite—the people who engaged were much happier. They reported the simple interaction had made their day!

Good engagers are emotionally intelligent and in-tune. They understand what emotions they’re feeling at the moment, and they know how to express them. They’re straightforward about what they want and what they need. They’re aware of their yearnings, and they’re asking to get their yearnings met!

This type of engagement doesn’t happen overnight. It requires practice and mindfulness. Each day, when you interact with others, take a moment to connect. Strike up a conversation, not just about the weather or sports. Ask how the other person is doing. Offer compliments and ask for what you need.

Start Being the Host

How often do you hold back in conversation? You may play out scenarios in your head like, “those people probably think I’m weird,” or “I bet they look at me and think I don’t fit in,” or “I have nothing to offer and don’t know what to say?”

These narratives we’ve constructed stem from limiting beliefs about ourselves. We may think we’re not enough or we’re too much and should hold back. Maybe we believe we don’t have much to offer. We’re not smart enough. People won’t like us if they see who we are.

Our limiting beliefs are powerful. We’ve carried them with us since childhood. They don’t change quickly or easily. One way we let go of this self-doubt is by becoming the “host” of each situation.

Think of the last time you hosted a great party with your pals. Chances are, you were engaging and comfortable. You probably poured the wine, made sure everyone was having a lovely time and sent guests home with leftovers. More importantly, you went into the function with confidence, because this was YOUR event.

What if you applied the same mentality to each interaction during your day? If you find a meetup group or a networking function, pretend to be the host. Don’t linger in the corners. Instead, realize everyone else is feeling the same awkwardness or discomfort you are. What would you say if they were your friends? What would you do if it was your dinner party?

Not everyone is comfortable with networking because of those feelings of insecurity and self-consciousness. When you start to “become the host,” you shift the narrative. You aren’t waiting for someone to reach out to you—you’re seeking new people out. You’re making sure everyone is engaged and enjoying themselves. You’re taking the initiative.

Hosting doesn’t apply to network events only, either. Connection is essential in every situation, not just formal happy hours and cocktail gatherings. Strike up a conversation wherever you go. Ask people for a recommendation: What service would you recommend? What’s your impression of this sculpture? Do you know a good doctor? What music are you into? What do you think of this option?

When you become the host, you gain an immediate sense of belonging. You start to strengthen your in-real-life interactions, which are so crucial if you work from home. Even if you send an email, be a little friendlier. If you’re on a call, really engage with the person you’re speaking with. Soak up interactions and allow them to nourish your yearning for engagement.

For more ways to connect with others, please visit the Wright Foundation. Join us for an upcoming More Life Training weekend, where we’ll explore new ways to engage with everyone in your life. We’re also excited to announce that many of our courses are available for download at a special introductory price. Don’t miss this excellent opportunity to learn more!

The Wright Foundation for the Realization of Human Potential is a leadership institute located in Chicago, Illinois. Wright Foundation performative learning programs are integrated into the curriculum at Wright Graduate University.

Why You Need a Casual Network of Friends as an Adult


Your Uber driver, your barista, the buddy you meet at a business conference…these relationships may seem fleeting, but the truth is, they’re essential!

Wondering if it’s essential to make friends as an adult? Engaging with your network and building your connections will lead to positive results!

As adults, we’re used to operating within our close social circle. We may not think of those distant connections often or focus on cultivating them. But a lot of positive engagement comes from these lower-stakes relationships. Here’s why it’s crucial to develop a casual network of friends as an adult.

Reaching Out to Your Cluster of Connections

Think of our network like a hub, surrounded by clusters of connections. We’re in the center of the hub, and as we branch out, there are different groups. There are connections at your gym, pals from your church, or groups of people you interact with daily (the security guard, coffee shop waitress, or the person at the bus stop) you don’t even think of as “connections.”

People tend to think you need only high-powered connections to cultivate a great network of friends as an adult. While it’s important to have close friends and allies who push your boundaries, it’s also essential to engage with your peripheral relationships as well.

There are scientific approaches to networking, as well. Earlier this century, the US Army investigated network science to see if it truly fit the definition of social science. They hired a group to interview social scientists, system scientists, and more to see if there was indeed a social system or network and to understand the overlap with communication and technology.


Each of us has a vital social network. Each element (a person) is a node and two nodes connected are a link (a relationship). This network surrounds the hub and strengthens it. In fact, sometimes the weaker ties at the periphery are better than the connections at our center.


My colleague, Barb, suggested I talk with a woman she was working with in the Year of Transformation program. I found out the two of us had a shared relationship with someone who had passed away. As we started talking, I discovered she was a trust attorney, working in non-profit development. This non-profit had an excellent planned giving program.

As we got talking, she offered to do a seminar at the Wright Foundation on legacy and planned giving. As an attorney and expert in her field, people were thrilled to hear what she had to say about building trust and security, as well as transgenerational wealth. She was able to educate them and earn the right to bring up the issue of net giving and writing the foundation into bequests.

If Barb hadn’t run into this connection and helped facilitate our meeting, we would have never had the conversation we needed to. She wasn’t someone we necessarily expected to become central to the foundation, but now, thanks to this casual connection, we’re on the road to a whole new step in our philanthropy.

The Importance Of Cultivating Our Weak Links

The New York Times recently explored this topic in its Smarter Living section. In the article, “Why You Need a Network of Low-Stakes, Casual Friendships,” writer Allie Volpe said:

Think of the parents you see in the drop-off line at school. Your favorite bartender. The other dog owners at the park. The sociologist Mark Granovetter calls these low-stakes relationships “weak ties.” Not only can these connections affect our job prospects, they also can have a positive impact on our well-being by helping us feel more connected to other social groups, according to Dr. Granovetter’s research. Other studies have shown weak ties can offer recommendations (I found my accountant via a weak tie) and empower us to be more empathetic. We’re likely to feel less lonely, too, research shows.

A 2014 study found that the more weak ties a person has (neighbors, a barista at the neighborhood coffee shop or fellow members in a spin class), the happier they feel. Maintaining this network of acquaintances also contributes to one’s sense of belonging to a community, researchers found.

Breakthroughs and changes happen in individuals’ lives at what’s called the “weak link.” “Weak link” doesn’t mean these relationships aren’t meaningful or won’t become significant. It merely means the tie hasn’t been cultivated yet. Many of these weak links or causal friendships are excellent connections to have.

Back in the 1980s, I hurt my knee. Being from Chicago, I thought who would know more about knees than the trainer for the Bears? We had a casual connection, so I called up their trainer, who was well-known in Chicago. He shared the name of the Bears’ top orthopedic surgeon.

While we’d never met before, I now had the right introduction and name to get in. I let them know the Bear’s trainer referred me, and I was immediately ushered into a top spot to get in. When I walked into the appointment, the surgeon said, “Well, you’re not the football player I was expecting!”

He went on to explore the risks. In this case, he told me that even though I wasn’t hoping to get back on the football field, my surgery was high risk and rehab was a better choice. Again, he then referred me to the top rehabilitation people he knew, and I recovered from my knee injury.

Networking is so important, and we must remember change happens at those weak links! Don’t fear that you don’t know someone well enough to engage with them. At the same time, don’t hold back in generosity when you cultivate those weak ties right back.

I encourage people to become net-givers rather than net-takers. This means offer to give more than you take away. When someone needs a favor, help with a connection or a referral, offer it up! You never know how it will come back to you years down the road.

Relating to Your Network and Making Friends as an Adult

Networks are only as secure as their connections. So, become a great connection for your network. As I’ve said before, the most crucial key in relationship building is to become a net giver. Wherever you are, generate value for others. The more value you create, the more others want to create for you.

Yes, there are plenty of net takers in the world. They take, and they don’t give much if anything at all. There are moments when it appears the net takers are the ones who are most adept at getting what they want out of life.

But, in the long run, net takers are easy to identify. After a while, people get just plain sick of accommodating their requests. Net givers, on the other hand, are generating reciprocity. When they need support, everyone around them is willing to give.

If you want to expand and broaden your network, cultivate those relationships that don’t necessarily hold a clear advantage or outcome for you. Every person has value and brings value to our lives.

Sometimes we aren’t sure where the relationship will lead, but we’re creating a chain of goodwill and positive interaction to serve us well in the long run.

This idea of networking is even applicable in the dating world. Although the advent of online dating has expanded the singles network for many people, it’s still necessary we stretch our comfort zone and understand the power of our network in dating.

When I was in college in 1967, the university president said 2/3 of us had met our future spouse already. I remember that statistic was such an eye-opener to me. While I didn’t meet Judith at college, it was a fascinating idea. People got married younger back then, and they tended to meet their spouse during their school years.

Now, the world has changed. People often end up with their partner at an older age, when they find someone with whom they share a lot in common. People aren’t limited to dating within their network anymore, BUT they certainly shouldn’t disregard their network when it comes to finding a match. After all, someone who shares commonalities with you is likely going to overlap in some regions of your network. You may meet through a friend (which is how Judith and I met), through an acquaintance, at an event, or yes, through a dating app.

The idea isn’t that you go out looking for people to build your network, whether your desired outcome is a great date, a new job, or a referral to an orthopedic surgeon. You should go out into the world with the intent to be a net giver. Think of how you will connect and engage with others in your network. How will you get to know people more? How will you build your social circle and your circle of influence?

In this world, whether it’s a job, getting into a school, or finding a service, it’s almost always about who you know. Get to know people and continue to build up your network of friends.

For more ways to build your connections, please visit the Wright Foundation. Join us for an upcoming More Life Training, where we’ll explore ways to learn more about yourself and those around you. We’re also proud to announce that many of our courses are available for download at a special introductory price. Don’t miss this excellent opportunity to learn and grow!

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The Wright Foundation for the Realization of Human Potential is a leadership institute located in Chicago, Illinois. Wright Living performative learning programs are integrated into the curriculum at Wright Graduate University.

Communicating with Your Partner About What You Really Want


How many times have you felt like your partner just doesn’t get it?

Do you ever feel like your partner just doesn’t get it? Here’s how to start communicating with your partner to get what you really want.

Maybe they leave the cap off the toothpaste, clothes on the floor, and dishes in the sink.

Perhaps it goes deeper than that. Maybe you feel like your partner dismisses you, doesn’t listen, or gets in the same old circular arguments over and over again.

How do you get what you really want out of relationships? How do you get better at communicating with your partner about what you really want?

Our Emotions Tell Us What We Want

Sometimes we aren’t sure what we want from our partner. We may only know what we DON’T want them to do.

I know sometimes Bob is on the computer and I’ll feel frustrated because I want to discuss something with him. Then I realize I’m not telling him what I want, and I look at what’s going on underneath the frustration. What I want is to be listened to. I want to know I matter.

We may believe what we want is a clean house, a successful partner, or someone who we’re attracted to. While there’s nothing wrong with those wants, they aren’t the deeper underlying yearnings of your heart.

At the Wright Foundation, we talk a lot about yearnings. Our yearnings are our spiritual hunger, our deepest desires, and the longing of our hearts. Yearnings are universal. Every single human being on the planet yearns.

The problem is, many of us have learned to disregard our yearnings. We’re not even sure what we truly want. So instead, we mis-want. We may think we want our partner to “do their dishes!” But what we yearn for is to be respected, to live in a home that’s secure, not chaotic, to feel acknowledged and heard.

So how do you figure out what you really want? Follow your feelings. Your emotions help guide you toward what you value. To convey our yearnings to our partner, we must first figure out what the heck we actually yearn for.

Any time we’re dissatisfied, annoyed or angry, it’s because our yearnings are unmet. Our unhappiness and crankiness let us know those yearnings are tugging at us. These are critically essential clues to our satisfaction.

We may not know what we yearn for and we may think it’s that we want him to pick up his socks. But what is it about socks on the floor that bothers you? That’s the clue to what’s going on underneath. If he leaves those socks on the floor after you’ve asked him to pick them up, you likely yearn to be heard and listened to.

When our yearnings are met, we experience satisfaction and fulfillment. This is deeper satiety than merely scratching an itch, feeding a craving, or engaging in a soft addiction (like watching TV, eating junk food, or shopping).

Neuroscientists found two brain circuits associated with our wants and yearnings, or what they refer to as our “excitatory centers” and our “satisfactory centers.” Wanting or excitatory feelings are related to stimulation and excitement, wanting is fulfilled by dopamine chemicals in our brain. Satiety isn’t built-in. We continue to crave more.

Our satisfactory feelings are fulfilled only by meeting our yearnings. Opioid chemicals fuel this center in our brain. When our yearnings are met, the satisfaction centers in our brain are activated, and we feel authentic, warm, satisfied fulfillment.

If we want to feel fulfilled, we need to get in touch with our feelings and emotions that underscore our yearnings. Our feelings act as our internal GPS. They guide us toward the activities and interactions to meet our yearnings, and away from the people, thoughts, and situations, that don’t.

When we don’t get what we want, we may experience fear or anger. When we get what we yearn for, we’re flooded with feelings of joy. Fear, hurt, sadness, and anger may all indicate an obstacle between us and our yearning. Our emotions give us clues and cues about those yearnings inside our hearts. As we identify our yearnings, we learn about them and act on them to get more of what we want.

Pinpointing Your Yearnings

Once we realize yearnings are universal longings of the human heart, experienced by all human beings, we see how important they are. Our awareness of our yearnings determines our degree of satisfaction and fulfillment.

When our yearnings are denied or ignored, we may become anxious, distracted, sad, and unfulfilled. We may feel as though we’re not living the life we truly desire. Our yearnings are vital. They lead us toward the pursuit of beauty, love, hope, contribution to the world, and a sense of the divine.

Most of us have spent much of our lives repressing our powerful yearnings.

We haven’t learned how to see them, feel them, or act on them appropriately. Many of us are conditioned to ignore our yearnings. We may even believe they’re an imposition or an embarrassment.

We must retrain ourselves to follow our urges—the impulses of our yearnings—in the moment. When we get the urge to call a friend, go for a walk outside, create something new, or talk to a stranger, the urge is fueled by our yearnings. We’re feeling the drive of our yearning to connect, to love, to be one with nature, to create, and to be seen. Without fulfilling our yearnings, we won’t feel satisfied or complete.

So, when we feel frustrated with our partner, is it because we actually want the clothes off the floor, the toilet seat down, or the dishes done? No, it’s because we’re longing for what those actions represent to us.

However, it’s not our partner’s job to meet our yearnings. It’s our job to get our yearnings met. If I yearn to connect with Bob, it’s not his job to know what I feel at the moment. I can ask him for the connection. I can let him know what I need. I initiate the conversation and take responsibility for it. Hopefully, your partner will be there for you and engage with you when you start articulating your yearnings.

As we discuss in The Heart of the Fight, at the core of positive engagement is being there. Marital researcher, Sue Johnson identified three keys to creative engagement: being accessible, responsive, and emotionally engaged.

  • Are you and your partner accessible to each other? Are you available, and do you feel valued?
  • Are you and your partner responsive? Do you trust them to respond to you? Can you get their attention easily? Can you count on each other?
  • Are you and your partner emotionally engaged and connected? Do you confide in each other and show care for each other’s hurts, fears, pain, anger, and joy? Do you feel close and engaged with each other?

Even if you answer no to the questions above, articulating your yearnings and telling your partner what you really want, is the place to begin better engagement.

Your Partner Isn’t a Mind Reader

Now, sometimes, we may wish our partner was a mind reader. We might even hope they’ll pick up on our silent cues—the side-eye, the exasperated sighs, the little comments we mutter under our breath.

Chances are, they DO notice these little acts of passive aggression, or what we like to call the hidden middle finger. The problem with these acts is they’re not a direct way of having our yearnings met. In fact, they become obstacles to our communication.

These little hidden middle fingers build up. They cause resentment and frustration. They erode our communication and breakdown the trust in our relationship. You see, when you say, “everything’s fine,” even when it’s not, you’re sending your partner a message you don’t speak the truth. This leads to a precarious balance in your relationship.

On the other hand, when we explore the underlying yearnings of our wants, we drill down to the important stuff. We get to the heart of what we really desire from our partner. We can then communicate it to them in more direct terms and clear requests.

  • “I yearn for security, so when our home feels messy and chaotic, I feel frightened and overwhelmed.”
  • “I yearn for respect, so when my requests are dismissed or brushed aside, I feel hurt.”
  • “I yearn to be seen and heard, so when my partner ignores me and spends time on her phone, I feel sad and angry.”

Once we articulate the underlying yearning, our path becomes clear.

How do we get our yearnings met? Ask!

Just this week, I had a day where I was feeling very fried. I hadn’t been feeling very well, and I’m behind on a million things. There was a line of people waiting to talk to me about all that needed to get done. I was talking with Bob and told him I felt overwhelmed and yearned to feel secure. I asked him to do just that, and he was able to hold me for a moment, relaxing me and offering more security. In my mind, I was scared because I had so much to do. I really wanted to know I was okay. I directly asked him to provide confirmation, and he was more than willing.

Intimacy comes from clear communication between partners. It comes from expressing your yearnings, trusting your partner to hear and acknowledge those yearnings, and reciprocating. We built a stronger connection and bond when we’re engaged in satisfying and fulfilling communication with our partners.

For more ways to strengthen your relationships, please visit the Wright Foundation. Join us for an upcoming More Life Training, where we’ll discuss ways to engage and communicate with your loved ones. We’re also proud to announce that many of our great courses for download on our website at a special introductory price. Don’t miss this opportunity to learn more about living a life you love.

The Wright Foundation for the Realization of Human Potential is a leadership institute located in Chicago, Illinois. Wright Foundation performative learning programs are integrated into the curriculum at Wright Graduate University.