Needs are the central point of orientation in NVC. Needs have to do with the fullness of a person, the life beyond words. Needs words are our conscious mind that grasps what this life calls our attention to. When our consciousness finds a word that corresponds, we feel relief. A search has ended. Our consciousness now keeps up with the life in us and we can turn from inward attention to outward attention and choose an action or strategy that will meet our need. Finding the needs word is to operationalise our full selves.
Like feelings words, needs words have a limited basic number but also come in a big variety of combinations and wording. Only you will know what the right needs word is for you. Your word might not be on the list. If you are searching for the right word, look through the list, and your body will tell you when you find it.
Beware of words that are strategies rather than needs. Needs are felt in the body, whereas strategies are ideas or concepts. Needs often get confused with values, which is a basic pattern for strategies. This is not wrong, but in order to reach full understanding and connection it is important to get to clarity about the need that lies behind the value in a certain situation. For example, behind the value of equality there could be a need for Community, a need for Inclusion of the person’s needs, and often it is about a specific need that is not taken into account in the communication right now. Find out what that need is and you will experience more connection and understanding than by only knowing the value.
Autonomy – or: Individuality, Self-determination, Choice, Control, Freedom, Power, Space, Independence, Competition
Community – or: Belonging, Support, To matter, To be seen and heard, Acknowledgment, Appreciation, Significance, Inter-dependence, Mutuality, Cooperation
Safety – or: Security, Consideration, Protection, Familiarity, Predictability, Stability
Change – or: Action, Challenge, Adventure, Exploration, Discovery, Novelty, Learning, Courage, Risk, Growth, Development
Subsistence – or: Water, Food, Shelter, Health, Procreation, Physical touch, Soothing,
Transcendence – or: Love, Faith, Trust, Meaning, Purpose, Presence, Beauty, Creativity, Wholeness, Flow, Love, Balance, Harmony, Mourning, Celebration, Spirituality
Honesty – or: Authenticity, Integrity, Clarity, Openness, Transparency, Congruence, Self-expression
Empathy – or: Connection, To be seen and heard, Support
Contribution – or: Work, Competence, Responsibility, Exercise, Productivity, Reliability, Efficiency
Rest – or: Sleep, Relaxation, Recreation, Recovery, Healing, Play, Leisure, Ease, Humour
(‘List of Needs’ is written by Peter Ulrik Jensen. The list is inspired by Bob Tschannen-Moran’s ‘Wheel of Needs’ (2009): www.celebrateempathy.com)