Needs Pagoda

The Human Givens nine needs formulation can be developed further. Here then is my beautiful Needs Pagoda.
needs pagoda

Your very own Needs Pagoda

The more I work with these human givens needs, the less useful I find them to be. The idea that all of these needs are equally important and equivalent in some sense and that they can be thought of as largely separate and distinct does not really stand up. Hence my Human Givens Needs Pagoda.



But first, let us remind ourself of Human Givens needs, all nine of them, listed in no particular order.

Essential Human NEEDS According to Human Givens

  1. Security – feeling safe in an environment which allows you to develop fully
  2. Attention (to give and recieve it) – a form of nutrition
  3. Sense of autonomy and control – having volition to make responsible choices
  4. Being emotionally connected to others – friendship, intimacy – knowing that at least one other person accepts you totally for who you are, “warts ‘n’ all”
  5. Feeling part of a wider community by having connections beyond your family and close friends
  6. Privacy – opportunity to reflect and consolidate experience
  7. Sense of status within social groupings
  8. Sense of competence and achievement
  9. Meaning and purpose – which come from being stretched in what we do and think


And now, introducing the Needs Pagoda

Safety is the prerequisite prior need.

After that, the next vital need is for control of ones emotions. That it is through having control  – by having control of emotions mainly that one is able to make decisions  (ie have volition) and then to take responsibility for whatever the outcome is – that other key needs can be met.

These needs are around relationships and work/activity which are higher level needs than most of the Human Givens nine, which are elements of these two.

These nine needs are not equivalent. Is privacy equivalent to meaning as an equally important human need? No, I don’t think so. Better to see privacy as a facilitator of meaning, like food facilitates physical health.

Similarly, attention needs (giving and receiving) – though very important and not really generally understood properly – are likewise subsidiary.

The Human Givens nine need formulation obscures the fundamental truth that relationships and work are essential, and there are many ways for these to be working for you and indeed they are often inseparably linked.

But if you are not in control of your emotions, which means being free to take responsible decisions then how can you possibly get anywhere near to meaningful relationships and satisfying work?

And finally what is the the nature of the environment in which all of this interacts? Notice the bubble in the middle and flows up and down the struts within the bubble? These are the emotions within which thriving and healthy lives exist and where needs are well met.

And can you see the extra bubble which encompasses work and relationships?  This is to reflect the truth that satisfying work/activity and meaningful social relationships are normally closely bound together. What is a successful company other than a social organisation with common goals and a way of working that its members can buy into and share?

And this bubble is topped and tailed by the Meaning we can derive from our lives and the Safety we must feel.