What You Want from Someone Else vs. What You Want for Yourself


  • Learn to separate what you want for yourself from what you think someone else should be doing differently
  • Experience the shift from passively waiting for someone else to change to actively working to get more of what you want

Estimated time: 5–10 minutes per example

Together with a partner, go through the following steps.

  1. Think about another person’s behavior that you sometimes complain about.
  2. State what you want in two different ways: A) what you want the other person to do differently, and B) what you want for yourself. (If you have trouble doing part B, ask yourself what would be different for you if you got what you wanted in part A. You can also ask your partner for their ideas.)
  3. Identify at least one thing you could do to get more of what you want for yourself. (Again, if you’re stuck, ask your partner for help coming up with ideas.)

Switch roles, so your partner gets a chance to practice, and repeat as many times as you’d like.

Variation: Do this exercise on paper, without a partner.


1.      What I complain about: My supervisor’s reviews of my project plans. (He takes more than a week to get back to me, and gives few specific comments.)

2a.    What I want him to do: Respond to me within three days and give me detailed feedback.

2b.    What I want for myself: Detailed feedback on my project plans, within three days.

3.      What I could do to get what I want: Ask for feedback from another person at the company. Ask my supervisor if there are things I could do to help get the turnaround time on his feedback down to three days.

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