In NVC circles, I often hear what I understand to be strategies described in “need” language. For me, the very heart and power of NVC Consciousness grows out of deep connection with Universal Needs and release of strategies. When I think I see strategy masquerading as needs, I’m concerned that the speaker and listeners are unlikely to find the sacred place, simply because they think they already have. When the speaker is someone who teaches NVC (whether certified externally, internally, or neither), my urge to speak out is especially strong, in the hope of contributing to their students’ lives as well.
Over the last few years of exploring and discussing CNVC certification, I’ve been particularly surprised and concerned when what I hear described as “needs” more often match what I understand to be strategies instead, and correspondingly how rarely I hear what I recognize as a pure & genuine Universal Need.
For concreteness, I’d like to mention a few recent examples from an NVC mailing list. I am in no way meaning to single out these two people. They just happened to provide recent examples.
I have a need for clarity and connection regarding the certification process and am very hopeful that my needs can be met.
I can relate to clarity and (particularly) connection as (universal) needs if taken by themselves. I strongly suspect, however, that the writer meant something specifically connected to the strategy of certification, and more specifically yet, to CNVC certification. From the place of Needs, clarity and connection can be fulfilled by means that have nothing at all to do with certification.
Because the distinction can be subtle and old habits persistent, I like to use this test: discard any qualifier following the needs, e.g., stop after “clarity and connection”, with no “regarding”, “about”, “of”, “for”, etc. Then add back an inverted/released form of the qualifier, as “and I’m totally fine with those needs being met without …”. Then listen to my body telling me whether I’ve just spoken truly or not. For example, I might say
I have a need for clarity and connection, and I’m totally fine with those needs being met without any information or forward movement on the certification process.
If my body says “Yes”, I celebrate my power, freedom, and abundance. If my body says “No”, I thank it for helping my mind out of its temporary delusion. Dropping the pretense of having found the sacred place of NVC Consciousness, I get to continue on my journey.
(Note: if you get overwhelmed or lose interest/joy in following the additional examples below, please skip to the request at the end of the post.)
For a few more examples of what I understand to be strategies masquerading as needs, here is a passage from another recent note from CNVC folks:
We have been wrestling with the balance between
the need to ensure the integrity of NVC — of who is teaching it and how it is being taught, and the need to see NVC demonstrated in the lives of the trainers
the need for consistency in standards to ensure the above two needs.
We are aware that we need more assessors world-wide and are working on this evolution of the new assessor training.
In all of these “need” descriptions, I hear strategies instead. I long for the pure Gold I’m confident lies buried — for the power, freedom, and inspiration I experience in deep exploration of underlying needs and release of strategy attachments.
In the first statement (“the need to ensure …”), I’m not sure whether the need was thought to be ensuring or integrity. “Ensuring” (applying will and effort toward) is always a strategy, in my understanding. “Integrity” I hear as a need, but then come the qualifiers: “of NVC”, “of who … and how …”. To the writers, I offer the Body-Clarity test:
I have a need for Integrity, and I’m totally fine with meeting that need independently of strategies involving the whos, hows and whats of teaching NVC.
Then ask the body for feedback. If it says “No!” then delve deeper for the Needs.
For the next one, “the need to see NVC demonstrated …”, I have a harder time confidently guessing the underlying need. Maybe it’s meant as additional strategy for the the same needs supported by strategies of who, what & how.
Next, “need for consistency in standards to ensure …”. If I took the language literally, I might think of “consistency” as the need. However, I understand consistency to be just a (useful as well as detrimental) strategy, and here there’s the additional qualifier “in standards”. The “to ensure”, confirms for me that consistency is in service of (i.e., is a strategy for supporting) the previous “needs” (what I’d describe as spoken strategies and unspoken and perhaps unidentified needs).
Finally, “we need more assessors …”. In this case, I’m guessing that the writers didn’t even intend the word “need” in the NVC sense. In case anyone was writing or reading this statement as a Need in the NVC sense, I’d suggest reconsidering assessors as a strategy to support the strategy of certification. Even within the strategy of assessment, there are naturally scalable alternatives to more specific strategy of a centralized, top-down approach. (See, e.g., the “Emergence of NVC” vision.)
Several other posts on this blog provide more background and examples of this perspective on faux needs.
Please try out the Body-Clarity test described in this post, and share your experience as a comment to this post (or just to me if you’d prefer more privacy). As well, please share any insights, techniques, celebrations or mournings about encountering and navigating past faux needs. With each other’s help, I believe we can get more adept at finding and living in the sacred place.