How to Start Speaking Up for Your Needs

By Lisa M. Basile
Reviewed by Susan Ko, Ph.D.
April 26, 2023

There may be times when you know exactly what you'd like from someone—a partner, friend, boss, or even a server at a restaurant—but somehow you can't quite bring yourself to put your needs into words. Often, knowing what you need and asking someone to help meet those needs are different skills—and frankly, speaking up can be tough for many people.

“It can be daunting to stand up for yourself, especially if you don’t have much practice self-advocating,” says Lauran Hahn, a licensed mental health counselor in Orlando, Florida.

But it’s worth it to learn how. Think back on a time when you did speak up for your needs. How great did that feel? Well, making a habit of advocating for yourself can give you that same feeling of empowerment and confidence. It can also boost your sense of inner strength and help you live in alignment with your values, explains Hahn.