Needs cards

The Needs Cards are a pack of 50 x 400 GSM high gloss cards, each featuring a word that represents a human need.

They are a powerful tool for group work, one-to-one conversations and personal reflection. 

Currently being used by team leaders, coaches and consultants, teachers, youth workers, parents and couples.

Along with the accompanying book, they've been developed through years of working with a needs-based approach to work.

The cards are available in English, French, Spanish, Greek, Japanese and Arabic.

How to use the cards

These cards can be used in a number of ways - in a group, with another person or on your own.

They are perfect for:

  • Creating the conditions for vulnerability and openness in a group workshop.
  • Understanding and resolving conflict or confusion in a group or relationship.
  • Uncovering the real purpose and motivation behind a business in a coaching session.
  • Creating clarity over how to focus your own attention and overcome personal barriers.

They are currently being used in organisations that range from large multinational firms to small, grassroots charities.      

Here are just a couple of processes that these cards are used for. You can find more in the ebook that accompanies the cards, 'Working with Needs: A Field Guide'

Group connection exercise

This is a way of getting a group to connect very quickly at the start of a group conversation or workshop, as part of a check-in for example.

1. Lay the cards out on the floor, 'needs words' upwards and make sure they are all visible.

2. Instruct people to look over the cards, without thinking too hard, and pick up one or two that jump out at them.

(You may find it useful to give them some context for looking such as: "When you think about why you're here today, which words stick out for you?")

3. Once people have a few cards in their hand, and are reseated, ask each person to share why they think they chose those cards.

Note: it's important that people are modelling respectful listening during this process. You can create these conditions by contracting with the group and embodying the desired behaviours (more about this in the book).

Personal clarity exercise

This is a way of cutting through the feeling of being overwhelmed by your workload, to-do list or the potential solutions to a problem.

1. Find a quiet spot where you won't be disturbed, if you can, lay the cards out in front of you or simply shuffle through them slowly (handy if you're at desk or on a train).

2. Each time a card feels like it sticks out to you, take it out and put it in a separate pile.

3. Once you have your smaller pile of needs cards, lay them out and look them over, noticing which feel most prominent.

4. Considering the options or list of tasks that you're faced with, write down those that feel like they are much more likely to meet your needs.

Note: sometimes it's helpful to start by physically mapping out your task list or options on post-it notes, so you can re-order them once you're clearer about your needs.  

The cards are inspired by the work of Marshall Rosenberg and the Grok the World games.