I believe we all have areas of our lives where we have something to learn, challenges we haven’t yet overcome or skills still to be mastered. One of these for me is my relationship to money.
The ‘Conventional’ View of Money
For much of my life I thought little about money other than it was ‘a good thing’ to earn, spend and save, though I never mastered the latter!
I was very much bought the common view of a transaction as being two-dimensional.
- I worked and received money
- I spent money and got stuff.
From what I notice in the media, shops and how many people talk about it, I don’t think I’m alone in this! It’s understandable the belief ‘I need money’ is so widespread and how automatically and unconsciously we buy and sell stuff .
Money has become so much integrated into our day-to-day lives it’s hard to imagine life without it! After all it’s a pretty amazing invention. It allows us to exchange what we have for what we want, provides some measure of the relative value of things and allows us to store value for future use.
When we use money unconsciously and approach transactions as simple two-sided exchanges we miss a great opportunity to practice NVC, and in particular to connect with needs.
Money and Needs
Having or using money is not a need in itself. Not in the way NVC defines needs, anyway. Most money is simply a number stored on a computer system you can’t eat, drink, wear or protect yourself with.
Only by using it can needs be met and every time you receive money or use money is an opportunity to connect with the beauty of those needs being fulfilled.
Next time you buy something, pause for a moment and consider these questions:
1. What needs of yours do the goods/services you’re receiving meet?
Sustenance? Ease? Security? Beauty? Efficiency? Play?
2. What needs of the seller are met by giving you the goods/services?
Contribution? Meaning? Competence? Being noticed?
3. What needs of yours are met when you hand over the money?
Giving appreciation? Gratitude? Mutuality? Encouragement (to continue doing what they are doing)?
4. What needs might be met for the receiver of the money?
Security? Being noticed? Receiving appreciation? Mutuality?
The seller is almost certainly not connected to their needs or yours in this exchange but that’s no reason for you not to!
You can also practice this when you are the seller and it is you giving the goods/services and receiving money.
My eBook – an experiment
I find it tragic we’ve become so used to seeing transactions as two-dimensional and so often lose sight of the wonderful web of needs we’re meeting in ourselves and others every time we engage in a transaction. For me it’s definitely a learning edge and old habits (for me) have a long slow death.
I had a particular struggle with my forthcoming eBook, going back and forth deciding whether to ‘sell’ it or to offer it free.
Then I paused and connected with the needs and this helped me decide to do both.
I’m offering the book free because I want the book available to everyone and I don’t want money to prevent anyone getting it. Writing it and knowing people will read it meets many needs of mine (contribution, creativity, meaning, fun … and more) and I believe will meet needs of most people reading it.
At the same time I have needs that will be met when I receive money (appreciation, encouragement etc.). Money is just a strategy, of course, and there are plenty of other ways these needs could get met (some more ideas here). Money is just such a flexible strategy it’s definitely my preferred one.
So in the book I’m also asking for money and trusting those who choose to respond to this request will meet some of their needs by doing so. Needs such as appreciation, feedback, encouragement etc.
We all win when we connect what we do and ask for to our needs – even in relation to money!
Welcome! I'm Ian Peatey and this site is one way I share Nonviolent Communication (NVC) by writing articles and sharing information about NVC materials, news and people. I hope you'll be a frequent visitor.
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