Posted by: JennyRain | October 7, 2009

What do you need?

What people need most in life is to be: ____________________  [Finish the sentence with one word]

I love this question. I have asked this question to several of my friends and it really helps me get to know them. Take a minute and think about how you would answer this question.

Allegedly, Dr. Sigmund Freud asked his class this question during one of his psychology classes many years ago. After receiving all of his students’ responses he told them the answer “What people need most in life is to be Understood.”

Now, why is the answer “understood”? Dr. Freud purports that to be “understood” encapsulates any other need we may claim to have. In other words, if people “get” us, they will hopefully respond in a manner that meets our needs.

This concept of the importance of being known or understood pervades our existence.

Being understood is a theme in movies. One of my favorite movie quotes is when Susan Sarandon answers the question, “Why get married?” Her answer, “Because everyone needs someone to witness their lives.” (Shall we dance, 2004)

In this movie, Richard Gere (her husband) begins exploring another side of his personality (the dancing side) and rather than becoming angry, Susan Sarandon attempts to understand this burgeoning need to dance by embracing it in her husband. It is really beautiful.

I wonder how much time we invest in trying to understand other people versus the amount of time we spend attempting to make others understand us?

I wonder what life would look like if we took time to listen to others around us, I mean really listen. Have you ever stopped long enough to allow a conversation to step into silence where you could actually hear another person’s heartbeat?

When was the last time you attempted to hear the back-story of someone’s words – those needs that may be covered up by angry words or flippant responses?

Listening is often the only open door to understanding we may have.

Counsel in the heart of man is like deep water, but a man of understanding will draw it out.    Proverbs 20.5



  1. […] This is another one of my favorite questions to ask my friends. Not only is it a great ice-breaker, but it allows you to find out more about people just like yesterday’s question. […]

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