percent signA morning discussion produced what appeared on the surface to be a rant. In fact, it is merely a bright revelation.

When you ask someone what they want, 80% of the time, you get a precise answer. Recitations of meal orders, shopping lists or to-do lists are readily available for consumption. The remaining 20% of the time, you have asked for something your respondent never considered before your query.

While the question posed in Three Day Post was sincerely a 20% question for the majority of respondents, in the professional world there truly are only 80% questions.


English is commonly known as the most idiotic language for its redundancy, malleability and exceptions. It holds phrases where other languages have single words. It has a palette of words for single concepts. For the purpose of this discussion, the following are at issue:

  • Prerequisite
  • Requirement
  • Stipulation

These are synonyms. They are things which are needed. (Passive voice… another annoyingly English-language train wreck.)


Your business partner needs you to complete a project. You are given the requirements and sent on your merry way with a deadline. Your choices are:

  1. Get it done timely according to the parameters;
  2. Get it done timely according to your own parameters; OR
  3. Not do it.

While many argue there is a choice of doing it correctly out of time, that outcome is failure which falls under #3.

If you and Partner are looking to please a paying client, the requirements came from the client or were designed with the client’s needs in mind. The parameters often hold the key to expedition of the project. For example:

time is money

You complete your portion of the project according to your own parameters. Although it meets the client’s requirements, Partner must undo a large portion of your work in order to meet the client’s larger goal. While it was easy for you to hold to your “tried and true” methods, you shot the profitability of the project in the foot by creating more work for Partner.

Did you really want Partner to be locked in an office instead of going to Jr.’s very first play? You are parked on the couch watch season 8 of your fave program whilst Partner is burning midnight oil. How clear is your conscience? How clear will it be when your proceeds from the project are reduced by the overtime payroll for Partner? Hmm.


This business model mirrors the personal relationships we spend our lives pursuing. How much more difficult is this level of disharmony when it is Mate burning the midnight oil whilst you blissfully sleep in ignorance of the consequences of your own shirking?

ticking clock gif

How often do we know precisely what (Mate, BFF, Quaint) wants? Occasionally, asking what someone wants is a 20% question, but in terms of having relationship needs met, it is 80%. Even if there is not a definitive list, everyone has some idea of what they need from any relationship.

From your acquaintances to your best friend to your mate, you know what you need from your relationships. When was the last time you updated the requirements? Often when our relationships go on the blink, we have to ask if we were forthright in telling others what we want and need.


None of us came with one. Our parents would have gladly accepted an owner’s manual in place of a birth certificate. By the same token, Mate would probably preferred one to a union certificate. Every one of us has at some point given up guesswork in favor of reading the directions.

Even if you are not a writer, you can compose a list of what you need.

always no

When was the last time you told someone what you needed? Do you know what you need from your relationships? Do you give what is asked or what you interpret as needed?


Hashtags: #relationships #needs

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  1. I have a lot of revelations/epiphanies. The problem is that they come after I’ve messed up something.

  2. I have never been good at saying what I want or need. It is, admittedly, a flaw in my overall personality. I tend to quietly go about my life and assume others will read my mind, or heart, or soul and needs.

    I have always been like this. It was, I suspect, beaten into me and I have never really undone the learning.
    Valentine Logar recently posted..Call it RainMy Profile

  3. I take issue that prerequisite and requirement are synonyms.

    A requirement is what is needed as part of a task
    A prerequisite is what is needed before you can take on a task.

    Thought I would finally troll you. haha
    Bearman recently posted..This is why you should be careful who you wish a “Merry Christmas”My Profile

  4. Relationships are always complex, and we seem to enjoy making them even more so, as if we’re compelled to do so. Perhaps it’s the fear of rejection that often keeps us silent.


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