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"Need" is the word we use in NVC for the deepest motivations behind anything we think or say, any action or reaction. The need that is most alive in us can change from moment to moment. Even when it is the same need for some period of time, it is arising again and again in each moment. We also call them values. Whatever we call them, we are looking for something:

  • positive - something we would like to be fulfilled, even if we don't like the current strategy someone is using to get it
  • abstract - not attached to any particular person, place or thing (then it would be a strategy - see Need vs. Strategy)
  • universal - All people share the same needs.

How to identify needs

  • Identify what feelings are present. Often this gives a clear suggestion of what need is most present. For example, if someone feels confused, they may be needing more clarity.
  • Think about a similar situation you've been in - what need was alive in you?
  • Reflect on the content of thoughts. For example, if someone says "You're so selfish!" or "You only care about yourself" they may be wanting more consideration.