Needs Cards Activity


The activity aims to introduce a representation of inner experience based on the feelings and needs concept developed within non-violent communication. This means to get to know a variety of human needs, to try to discuss a neutral topic to reflect these needs, and simultaneously, to build vocabulary that we can use to describe our inner experience better.

Practical Information

Group Size

For these activities, there is no upper limit of participants. However, to determine the (maximum) number of participants, it is suitable to consider how large your workshop space is. When working with a set of Cards, each participant must be able to find a relatively calm place for themselves without others distracting them.



  1. The author of this set of Needs Cards is Ondráš Přibyla, a CNVC-certified trainer. For the purposes of this project, this set of Needs Cards has been graphically redone. Cards were translated by Martin Švarc. The original version of the Cards is available at https://nenasilnakomunikace.org/stahnete-si-cviceni-s-kartickami-potreb-a-pocitu/ ↩︎

Working with a Set of Needs Cards

Hand out a set of Needs Cards to each participant. They will find a spot where they would not disturb each other and with enough space to spread all cards out. Participants scan the spread-out cards, and if needed, ask any questions to clarify meaning on specific cards. Next, they should think about which of their needs were fulfilled recently and which were not. Based on this assignment, participants sort each card into one category: (1) the needs they feel are satisfied, (2) the unsatisfied needs, (3) the needs they have mixed feelings about, or (4) the needs they cannot relate to now. Next, ask the group to think about these questions: “Why do you think some of your needs are unfulfilled?” and “Does it personally bother you (or not) that these needs are not satisfied?”. 1

  1. This activity is inspired by NVC Brno techniques available at https://nenasilnakomunikace.org/stahnete-si-cviceni-s-kartickami-potreb-a-pocitu/. ↩︎

At first, it is more suitable to reflect on our needs experienced during a shorter period, e.g. last week or month.

The work with a set of Needs Cards is a Non-Violent Communication technique based on empathy for self. When we are reflecting on the feelings we have experienced, we connect to self, we immerse deeper into our inner experience, and therefore we learn to understand ourselves better.


“During this exercise, we familiarized ourselves with all human needs. Moreover, we had a chance to realize our personal needs — understand what we desire in life. If we understand our inner experience better, then we will be better equipped to explain to people around us what we need at a particular moment to feel better. This activity can help us to open our eyes and realize the comparison — the way our life actually goes versus the way we would like it to go.”

With the gradual realization of our essential needs, we learn to be more sensitive to self which can lead to unpleasant feelings — at least at the beginning. However, this process is entirely natural, and therefore it is perfectly normal to experience such feelings during the reflection.