NVC & Life-Needs

The fundamentals of Rose City / Thriving Life Nonviolent Communication (NVC) are based on the following principles.  (Elements that are unique to our particular approach appear in italics):

  • It’s our birthright to THRIVE
  • Happiness is the feeling we experience when we are THRIVING
  • Everyone has the same right to thrive; no person’s well-being is more important than another person’s
  • The only thing anyone is ever doing, is trying to thrive (however unconscious, misguided, or tragically counterproductive their attempts might be)
  • All human beings require the same essential things (Life-Needs or “Needs“) in order to thrive; human beings who don’t get their Life-Needs met eventually become ill physically, mentally, and/or emotionally.  Examples of Life-Needs include harmonious connection, touch, belonging, self-expression, freedom/choice, etc.
    Download the full list of 12 Essential Life-Needs here –>
  • Once we become adults, our well-being (thriving) is ultimately our own responsibility, and other adults’ well-being is ultimately their responsibility (please also see Respect, below)


Learning how to thrive involves:

  • learning how to value and matter to ourselves
  • learning how to experience our feelings as they’re happening without avoiding, denying, numbing out, going unconscious, being overwhelmed, or being “captured” by them
  • learning how to identify our Life-Needs
  • learning how to meet our Life-Needs, including identifying effective internal strategies (e.g., learning how to generate the experience of met Life-Needs through memory, imagination, and invention) as well as effective external strategies (e.g., making requests of other people, and/or engaging with resources, places, circumstances, and/or events)


There are eight essential elements to the NVC view of human expression and experience:

Observations (What Happened)    vs.    Stories, interpretations, beliefs, judgments, evaluations, (etc.)

Feelings      vs.     Thoughts

Needs          vs.      Strategies

Requests    vs.      Demands


  • Observations (What Happened) include the facts of what was actually said or done at a specific time or place that could be verified by an outside observer, without any interpretive content added.  (“The thermometer read 82F.”)
  • Stories,  interpretations, beliefs, judgments, evaluations, etc. are ways that we attempt to make sense of the world, other people, ourselves, and our experience of all these.  (“It’s cold in here.”)  These can serve to bring us into deeper, more life-giving connection to ourselves, Life, and others; and they can also serve to disconnect us from ourselves, Life, and others. add something to What Happened.  A great deal of conflict arises from unconsciously confusing our Stories with What Happened.
  • Our Feelings are primary emotions that arise from our body sensations. Feelings let us know whether what we’re experiencing is moving us towards thriving or away from it.  Specifically:
    • “positive” feelings indicate that our needs are being met and our well-being is increasing
    • “negative” feelings indicate that our needs are not being met and our well-being is diminishing
    • the longer a need goes unmet, the stronger and more negative our feelings become
  • Feelings are distinguished from thoughts, which arise from mental activity.  We often label things as feelings that are actually thoughts (“I feel like you should get home earlier”) or feelings combined with thoughts (“I feel betrayed.”)
  • Strategies are ways we attempt to meet our Life-Needs. They are specific to time, place, and actor.  (“Food” is a Life-Need; “spinach” is a strategy.   Note that money, property, and positional power are all strategies; none of these are Life-Needs that, in themselves, directly contribute to our thriving.)  The effectiveness of any specific strategy in contributing to our own or others’ well-being can and does vary from person to person, and from one point in time to another.
  • Requests are ways we invite others to take actions that we believe will contribute to our well-being, that value and consider the impact that granting our request would have on the other’s well-being (as reported by the other person).
  • Demands are ways we attempt to get our needs met without consideration for others’ well-being, that state or imply the threat of judgment, blame, and/or punishment if the other doesn’t comply


This brief overview only begins to touch on a landscape that is as vast, complex, and varied as we and our relationships are. There are many, many questions that can arise for us as we begin to explore this territory, including:

  • “How do we value and care for our own well-being “first” while still being appropriately mindful of the impact of our choices on others’ well-being?”
  • “Does being responsible for our own well-being mean we shouldn’t ask others for help?”  (The short answer to this is — not at all! It does mean that “the buck stops here.”)
  • “What about when someone breaks an agreement, creating an enormous negative impact for others? Isn’t that wrong?”
  • “I feel excited about what I’m reading, but I don’t think anybody in my life is going to agree with any of this stuff. How do I explore this new world without becoming even more disconnected from them than I am already?”

We understand these questions and concerns and can offer guidance as you look for answers that satisfy your own values and sensibilities.

Don’t hesitate to reach out and connect, that’s what we’re here for.