“Need” is a powerful word. People use it wrong a lot. If you do, you’re probably hurting your credibility and ability to influence. It implies sloppy communication and probably sloppy thinking.
People often say things like:
“You need to calm down,” when they want you calm,
“You need to be quiet,” when they want you quiet,
“You need to listen more,” when they want you to understand them,
and so on.
I associate such phrases with people with authority trying to get others to comply. Videos online of cops subduing people often show them “You need to get down on the ground!”
Since neediness is so unattractive, I think most people are sensitive to someone telling them they need something. I am. So when you tell someone they need to do something, many people respond by creating arguments against you in their heads. What did you think when you read this post’s title? I bet you thought something like,
I don’t know who you think you are, but I don’t need to read your post and I’m going to tell you why you’re wrong.
If you have authority, they may comply on the outside, but on the inside they are looking for ways to undermine or circumvent your authority—the opposite of loyalty. I took a risk of alienating readers and undermining my credibility with that headline. I just wanted to create the emotional response.
If you responded differently, I’m interested to know, since it means you respond differently than I do.