Finding Needs

Needs cards from the Deck of Needs

"Which (un)fulfilled need is at the core of your story?"

I prefer to translate NVC into 'Needs based Communication'. One of its original intentions was to express wishes in a way that can be easily heard by others, meaning without the more 'violent' communication that we call judgements or demands. Focusing on finding needs helps to reach that goal. Together with some other principles of NVC using needs has also proven to be extremely effective when we listen. To me needs are an essential part of the core message behind everything you did, everything you want to do and everything that keeps you from doing that.

When I listen I use needs in three ways:

Are you (basic) needs fulfilled enough?

We can only listen to ourselves (and others) when our other needs are sufficiently fulfilled. Although all unfulfilled needs can distract you from listening, I found that there is a specific set of needs connected to blockades and other undesirable thoughts and behaviour. When one or more of these needs were not fulfilled after or during unpleasant events, your system first created one or more strategies that form the core of your current blockades. At the same time your present perception of fulfillment (and not fulfillment) of the same needs keeps you from letting go of ideas and behaviour that no longer serves you. When in the past you could not find people to really listen to some issues, you may find it hard to trust that someone will listen now. When in the past you had the experience that you had to do it all by yourself, you may find it hard to believe that you can now do it together. I found that before I can listen to 'older' stories, we need to ensure that this specific set of needs is sufficiently fulfilled. You need to feel sufficiently safe to talk. You need to feel to at least some extend that you're not alone. And your body needs to be sufficiently relaxed.

What is the Core Message in your story?

In the Book of Needs I defined something that I call the Core Message. Inside everything that you say and behind all the signals that you receive, there is a core message that wants to be found, seen and heard. I found that this Core Message contains at least 1 Thought, 1 Feeling and 1 Need. People often start with a series of thoughts and feelings. Sometimes people can tell their entire life story. It is however when we find the one thought or feeling that is at the core of all these thoughts, that people say 'yes, that's it' and I can see how their entire body reacts with a sigh, a nod of the head or shoulders going down. It has also been my experience that this 'physical relief' is even stronger when we also find the needs connected to these thoughts and feelings.

Creating the life, work and love you want to live

A final reason to use needs, is that they open up a whole range of possible solutions for several reasons. First of all needs are by definition not connected to a specific time, person or place. This allows us to fulfil this need and find new solutions by changing time, person or place. Secondly others find it much easier to hear our needs than our preferred strategies and solutions. They are thereby much more likely to participate in finding a solution that fulfils both their and your wishes and needs. Finding your needs and the needs of others you share your life with, will open a whole range of new possibilities to create the life, work and love you want to live.