Positions and demands impede consensus, whereas addressing deep needs makes true consensus possible. Deep needs are universal and can be satisfied in many ways, opening up possibilities. So help people clarify and meet the deep needs of all parties and to understand the addictive, shallow nature of pseudo-satisfiers and their manipulative power.
Related: 1 All Concerns Addressed, 4 Big Empathy, 7 Checks on Extreme Inequality, 40 Nature First, 44 Power of Listening, 49 Quality of Life Indicators, 66 Well-Utilized Life Energy
Going deeper …
This is an edited version of the video on this page.
There are different layers to what’s going on in a conversation, particularly when we’re dealing with an issue where people have a stake. There is a surface phenomena of proposals or ideas. Under that are the emotions that people are bringing to it, and under that their needs.
Now, the analysis that I’m offering here depends heavily on the ideas underlying Nonviolent Communication, which have some very broad applications. I use NVC’s perspective a lot when I think about needs.
First of all, the kind of needs we are talking about are not what we normally think of as needs being big wants, like “I need an apple pie right now!” That is a want. The need in this case is for nourishment or for enjoyable taste. These are needs. And what makes them “needs” – from the NVC perspective – is that they are virtually universal. Everybody needs food, everybody needs air, everybody needs community and care and joy. These are basic needs. They are universal.
And one of the other things that characterizes a basic need is that it can be satisfied in many different ways. If I need food, heaven knows, there hundreds of different kinds of food. Even if I need to drink something, there are all these different kinds of drink. So a deep need is not only universal, it can be satisfied in many different ways.
So when someone pushes a particular position or demand, they have felt certain needs and have come up with something that they think will satisfy those needs. And they are stuck in that level of positions and demands. It is really hard to get around that stuck attention. When you try to address the position or demand, you often end up fighting or giving in or getting bogged down in bargaining and trade-offs – if you do this, I will do this – rather than just getting clear on what you truly need and what they truly need – or, in the language of the famous book “Getting to Yes“, clarifying what are your legitimate interests and what are theirs.