The 4th and Final Building Block!

(Time to read and try: ~ 4 minutes)

So, here is what we have explored so far:

  • We observe something (our senses take in some external sensory data – which NVC calls an observation)
  • We feel some things – based on an incredibly rapid synthesis of information from the present and the past – letting us know whether various parts of us sense that “things are okay” or “things are not okay – do something”
  • These feelings let us know that needs of ours that are met and/or not met. Needs are intangible things that are important to us, and that we “need” in order to thrive – things like care, connection, belonging, learning, growth and effectiveness.

So….what would you guess the final building block of connection is?


We use strategies – in other words, we take tangible action – in order to meet our needs.

For example, if I’m reading a book [observation], and suddenly I feel lonely, that might be signalling my need for connection. So I might make a request to myself to

  • phone a friend to talk,
  • or go online and email or chat with someone,
  • or get my wallet and go to a nearby coffee shop,
  • or call a friend and request that they come over to visit.

All of these are various possible strategies in order to meet that need for connection.

I would choose the one or ones that I believe would best meet my needs – again using my feelings as my guide, as we all do all the time.

Sidebar – Another Benefit of Needs Awareness

One of the benefits of being clear about my needs is that I’m more likely to choose an effective strategy (like one of the ones above) that relates to my specific needs in that moment.

Rather than a strategy like going to the fridge for something to eat, that may temporarily make me feel better, but doesn’t support the specific need(s) that led to the uncomfortable “needs not met” feeling.

Why call them requests?

This, for me, is one of the things I really appreciate about NVC, because it highlights a fundamental truth about us as human beings:

I can’t actually make anyone do anything! (And if I try, I’ll wish I hadn’t!)

People get to choose what they do.

If I want to engage people in a spirit of cooperation…

(as in “create a quality of connection in which everyone’s needs are equally valued and are met through natural giving”)

… then I only ever want to make requests, so that they will only say yes if they can do so from that place of natural giving – giving because it’s so satisfying to contribute [one of our core needs] to the well-being of others (even if the particular task isn’t fun).

And, I’ve discovered the same thing applies when I want to get myself to do something.

If I “demand” that I do something, or try to “force” myself, it generally doesn’t work very well.

More often than I’d like I end up using a “comfort” strategy like food, watching TV, ____ (fill in your favourite comfort activity) – rather than doing the thing I “have to” do.


At this point in a group session, there are usually lots of objections to the idea of “just” requesting things.

If you have some objections yourself, I’d love to hear about them – please reply to this email and let me know yours. I will write back.

And I find that many of these fall under the heading of, “But how do you make life work if you just make requests?!?”

Which is a wonderful question! For me, it’s about how do we use these four building blocks of connection to get our needs met in real life?

That is the topic of the next email. And before we move onto that, I’d like to give you a chance to test drive this fourth and final building block of connection.

“Test Driving” Requests