Thursday, March 26, 2009

Kuzco syndrome

I'm not a big fan of animated movies but I've always LOVED The Emperor's New Groove. So, I had to laugh the other day when a friend described her husband as suffering from 'Kuzco syndrome'. Most definitely not a DSM-IV diagnosis (although possibly could be considered for DSM-V? *grin*).

In case you're not familiar with the movie, Kuzco is an extremely self-centred emperor whose personal motto is 'It's all about me'. Of course, in true Walt Disney style, Kuzco goes through a series of adverse events and comes out a reformed, SNAG. Unfortunately, my friend's husband has yet to get the Disney makeover and she's left battling to get her needs and wants acknowledged.

So, how to best ask for what you want?

Formulate your needs/wants

Asking for things can be hard and so it can be helpful to think about your request in advance. This means gathering all the facts related to any potential request.

From Who is the person who is in a position to give you what you want?
I want What do you want? Make it clear what you want the other person to do. It's not enough to say something vague like "I need you to help", you need to be specific about behaviours. So, "I need you to help me sort through the bills".
When Give an idea of the deadline for getting what you want. Is there a partcular time of day you want someone to do something? How often should they do it?
Where Where should this request be performed?
With Are there any other people who need to be involved?

Use these elements to outline exactly what you are requesting. The more specific you can be in your request, the easier any negotiation is likely to be.

Distil the assertive request

Put the details outlined above into a brief statement.

Deliver a whole messages

Saying what you want is only one part. People will be more responsive if they know a little more about what's behind your request. What are your feelings in relation to your request? Delivering a whole message promotes intimacy and acceptance.

In talking about feelings, always be care to use an "I" message. An "I" message allows you to own your emotions, in contrast to a "You" message which can seem to blame the other person and make them hostile and defensive. "I was disappointed..." sounds far less accusatory than "You disappointed me".

Put it together

I think (my understanding, perception, interpretation) +
I feel ("I" messages only) +
"I want" (from request outline).


"I think we need to share the housework more. I feel resentful when I'm still clearing up after cooking dinner and you're playing Wii. I need you to help me with the washing up."

Are you listening, Practical Man? Of course he is!


phd in yogurtry said...

I think there IS a a Kuzco syndrome -- Narcissistic Personality Disorder -- no?

Your advice is all good. It's amazing how many therapy sessions involve explaining this very concept. Stop merely complaining and start asking. Ask in a calm, quiet, neutral tone of voice.

Deborah Serani said...

I didn't see the movie. Is David SPade in that one?

Health Psych said...

Hey PhD, well, yes, but luckily for friend, I don't think her husband is that extreme!

What surprises me when people say people don't treat them as they expect. They haven't voiced what they want, they just expect people to know....and, I can be guilty of that myself sometimes :)

Hi Debs,
Hope you're feeling better. Yep, David Spade is fabulous as Kuzco. A good viewing if you still have your feet up!