The Ten Human Needs

Each and every one of our human needs is directly related to the desire to achieve control.  If we want something out of life, it’s because we believe that having it will provide more control over experiencing pleasure or avoiding pain.

Some people’s human needs supersede others.  These are known as their dominate needs.  First come the survival needs, which include: food, shelter and clothing. Once those 3 needs have been filled, there are emotionally driven needs that most human beings desire.

1. Comfort/Certainty – This is the desire for comfort and/or inner peace.  No one wants to live in discomfort, and much of this comfort comes from certainty.  While we all know there is no such thing as total certainty or absolute guarantees, we all desire certainty ranging from small things like our car starting, to deeper things like the certainty that the things that bring us joy will continue to do so.

The greatest form of certainty that people desire is the certainty that they will be alive tomorrow.  For people who have dominant needs that have to do with comfort and certainty, they generally do not enjoy taking risks or being exposed to different types of environments.  Generally speaking, these people are creatures of habit.  They have associated whatever they have been doing with comfort and certainty, and so getting them to change or move in a different direction can be challenging.

You can create change in people like this if you can just show them why not changing will eventually lead to uncertainty.  The best triggers that you can use with a person who really loves comfort and security are scarcity and proof.  Obviously, if people like certainty, the best way to get them to act is to show them that their certainty is at risk if they do not make a decision soon.  I explain to them that there are limited quantities or limited time in their decision-making process using the scarcity trigger.  Because these people love certainty, you have now tap into their desire for comfort and certainty and cause them to take action to salvage the security they seek.  The best possible way to persuade them is by showing them proof that whatever you are asking them to do has worked for someone else.  While nothing in life is guaranteed, if you can show someone that whatever you have to offer has worked in the past or for someone else, you have now created a higher level of comfort and certainty for this person.

2. Variety/Adventure – As much as we want certainty, there must also be the concept of chance, risk and variety, or things would get boring. Most people still desire variety and adventure within the confines of their certainty desires.  As an example, adventurous people who enjoy skydiving like the feeling of jumping out of a plane and the risk associated with it. However, they still want to come out of the situation alive.  So even though they enjoy the risk of death, they still want the certainty of life.

The point I’m trying to make here is that when you are dealing with a person whose dominant needs include adventure and variety, the key is to understand that these desires still take place under the umbrella of certainty.  The best triggers to use with these types of people include proof, because people who like variety need to know for a fact that something will be adventurous or will vary from something that they are used to.  The best way to show someone how different or how adventurous something may be is through the proof.  Scarcity works very well too because urgency is directly related to adventure.  Urgency completely changes the perception of the situation.

3. Significance – This is the desire to feel important.  No one wants to feel as though his or her life meant nothing after he or she has passed away.  Deep down within all of us is the desire to be significant in life, but for some people, significance is more important than anything else.  These people have a strong urge to prove themselves and to make a difference in the world.  If something great in life happens they want their name to be attached to it.  They want to be the driving force behind all great things that happen in life.  One of the most effective triggers to use with people whose dominant need is significance is the dissonance trigger or the internal conflict trigger.  Feelings are a big part of these people’s lives and what drives them to think and behave in a certain way.  Cognitive dissonance creates feelings of discomfort or uneasiness within someone.  So any time that you can show people why their decision to not comply with you would cause them to lose the opportunity to be significant, or even worse make them look insignificant, you have organically created cognitive dissonance within them.

Now all you need to do is show them how being in compliance with you would make them feel significant.  Once you demonstrate this idea, you have instantly relieved the dissonance.  Using the law of connection is also very effective when dealing with a person whose dominant need is significance; because significance is defined by the way the rest of the world perceives us.  In order for someone to be viewed as significant, there must be an audience involved.  There also must be another party involved, because doing anything of great significance usually has a positive impact on another party.  Therefore, if you can use the connection trigger to create rapport with people, they will then feel that being in compliance with you will make them be significant.

4. Freedom – Although all human needs correlate to control, freedom is also closely related.  Most people do not want to feel as though they are being forced to do things in life, but would rather have the freedom to decide.  As I said earlier, people prefer the path of least resistance and people do not enjoy things associated with pain.

In the minds of most people, freedom represents the exact opposite of those two things.  Freedom represents pleasure and it represents choice.  It represents the ability to do whatever you want whenever you want in life.  And for some people, this is the driving force behind everything that they do.  In fact, some people will experience great amounts of pain and go through paths of extreme resistance if they believe that these experiences will lead to freedom at the end.

One of the most powerful triggers that you can use for people who desire freedom is the law of contrast.  If you can show comparatively how their decision to comply with you, versus anyone else, would lead them to freedom, they will be more likely to do whatever it is that you asked them to do.   The same is true for if you can show them how different their life could be if they complied with you by using the law of contrast.

Proof is another technique that works extremely well with people who are looking for freedom.  Remember, if people are willing to engage in activities that they hate the most like pain or resistance just to get to freedom, they need as many reasons or as much proof as possible to show them that they will actually achieve freedom towards the end.

For example, if I’m a good writer but I don’t enjoy writing particularly because it involves a lot of thought, a lot of time and a lot of work, chances are I don’t write that often.  However, if someone could show me is that by writing a certain book using a certain system that has been proven to work that I would make $10 million and be able to be financially free, I would now be more motivated to write each and every day.  The scarcity trigger works extremely well too because freedom is a desire that can easily be quantified.  In other words, you’re either free or you’re not free.  So, if you can show people how being in compliance with you can change their lives and give them freedom  but then show them how if they don’t act soon, they will lose their freedom, they will be doubly motivated to take action very quickly.

5. Connection/Love– Relationships nurture the soul and magnify the human experience.  The more relationships we have and the deeper they are, the more fulfilled we feel.  This is why people have the desire to be part a community, to care for others and to be cared about.  Deep down inside, all sane human beings want to experience love and connection on some level.  Even introverts or people who don’t enjoy crowds still desire connection and love on some level.  If, in fact, you find someone that desires love and connection more than the average person scarcity works rather well.  If you can show someone why if they don’t act quickly they will lose their opportunity to feel love and connection, they will be motivated more to seek it.  We see this in the dating all the time.  The scarcer or less available one person makes himself, the more the other person desires him.

Another trigger that works extremely well with people who are interested in love and connection is association.  Any time that we are attracted to someone who we believe is attractive to everyone, we become even more attracted to that person.  So if you can show someone why, whatever you have to offer is wanted and valuable by many other people, what you have to offer now becomes even more desirable.  This is why men who are not so great looking, but tend to have a lot of girlfriends, live this way.  Regardless of how good-looking or not he is, the moment a woman sees a man with a woman who’s very good-looking or with a number of women, he suddenly becomes more attractive.  These types of thoughts usually run through their minds- what does he have to offer that makes them so attracted to him?  He must have something great to offer for so many other women to like him.  This is the law of association at its best.

6. Growth – We’ve all heard the saying if you’re not growing, you’re dying.  Growth – be it spiritually, emotionally, mentally, physically or financially – improves our overall quality of life.  Some people really have a huge desire to grow.  It doesn’t matter if in the process they achieve freedom, love, significance or any other desires for that matter, as long as they feel they are growing in some way.  One trigger is extremely effective with people who desire growth is proof.  If you can show someone why doing something your way has been proven to help others grow, he or she will be motivated to do whatever you asked,

The same is true of association.  If you can associate what you have to offer with the results that other people have gained through using it, people will be prompted to take action.  People who desire growth tend to know that quick fixes are always a reality.  Therefore, many of them are very good with commitments.  One of the biggest reasons why people can’t keep commitments is because their point of view on whatever they committed to changed after the time they committed to it. People who desire growth know that stakes can change entirely and they can easily become unmotivated.  However, they continue anyway..  That’s why it’s extremely important to get these types of people to make commitments as soon as possible.  While results show that most people who make commitments keep them, people who desire growth more than anything else generally keep their commitments more than most people.

7. Contribution – This is the desire to contribute something of value to the world and somehow make it better place.  Contribution is very similar to the desire for significance, although contribution is more of a selfless desire; whereas, significance has to do more with the way someone will feel after doing something.  People who desire to contribute more than anything else are more concerned with how other people will feel or the difference they can make in someone else’s life than they are with their own lives.  The best trigger that you can use for these types of people has to do with the law of connection.  All you simply need to do is create a strong rapport and a strong connection with someone, and then show them how complying with your request can change their life for the better.  They will instantly want to contribute and want to help you.

Another powerful trigger is the verbiage trigger.  If you can create your presentation in a way that drives home the fact that this person would be helping or contributing to someone else’s life very dramatically, their odds of complying with you will be much higher than if you structure the presentation around their needs and desires.  Yet, another trigger that’s extremely powerful is the reciprocity trigger.  If you can contribute something in some way to this type of a person he or she will instantly feel the need to return the favor.  Find a way to do something that will positively impact or contribute to this person’s life first, and you will have basically laid the groundwork for them to do the same for you.  Expectations are another extremely effective trigger to use with people who desire contribution, because if they know that you’re expecting them to comply with you, you’ve already created a scenario where they feel the need to contribute.

8. Power – Of all human needs, power is the one most closely related to control.  The desire for power is to feel in complete control over all things at all times and can encompass all other needs.  It can also represent itself as the desire to feel superior at all times.  People who desire power more than anything else always want to feel as if they are in control and do not ever like to feel threatened in any way.

These people can often feel threatened for no good reason, if they are around someone who in their mind is more powerful than them.  The key to dealing with people who desire power is to always make them feel more superior.  As the great quote says, “Never outshine the Master.”  People who desire power like to feel as though they have the best of everything.

That’s why using the contrast trigger is extremely powerful.  You see, if you can show someone the difference between what you have to offer and why it is so much better than the alternatives by using contrast, people like this will automatically block what you have because in their mind they believe it makes them more powerful.  Association works very well too because if you can associate what you have to other people with power, these types of people will want it as well.

9. Expression – Expression is the desire to express the feelings within. The need for expression can correlate to the need for contribution and significance, but it can also stand by itself, as many artists use their creativity for no other purpose than to release it.  People who have a strong desire for expression can have that desires lead them into other desires when deep down inside all they want to do is release whatever it is that is inside of them.  The verbiage trigger works extremely well if you can tailor your presentation in a way where people will feel that there are no strings attached and that they will be able to fully express themselves by complying.

10. Balance – The need for balance is strongly related to the cognitive dissonance theory.  People whose dominant human need is for balance don’t necessarily care if something is right or wrong, they are more concerned with things being equal.

To them the world operates on the premise that all events that take place must balance each other out.  If balance isn’t achieved, things seem oddly wrong to them.

When influencing a person whose dominant human need is balance, it’s important to point out how whatever you have to offer doesn’t take away from something else.  In fact, it’s more important to focus on how it makes things equal.

For example, if you’re trying to persuade someone to buy a car and your target is hesitating because the monthly payment is going to cause an imbalance in the amount of money that he or she has, show all the things that he or she will be able to get done with their car so that you can create the balance needed for your target to make a decision.




  • rinah says:

    Very interesting stuff. Now, how do I go about detecting which need is most dominant in a potential client?

  • Totsan says:

    Hi Paul, thanks for sharing that detailed post about human needs. It make sense to see others’ point of view in comparison to Maslow, ” Hierarchy Of Needs ” Anyway, inadvertently, with cultural differences each support their own belief.
    But with regards to 2 of your illustrations about men one to repel and the other one to defend: These 2 examples are better portrayed under the name of love or relationship ?
    1) You said, ” the scarer or less available one person MAKES himself, the more the other person desires him. ” As for me He is not ready for a relationship specially if he makes himself UNAVAILABLE ( Intentionally ).
    2)Men who are not so great looking, attracts lots of women, works well with the power of suggestion because they really know how to cater for the needs of those women, was that your point, Paul… tca and regards

  • Muyi says:

    Interesting, but how do I go about using it? Knowing it alone wouldn’t serve me, but using it effectively will do it.

  • Iqbal Ismail says:

    Hello Paul, Great stuff a real food for thought,I didnt pay much attention to some of them before,but now I will do.Thanks my Friend.

  • Dorca says:

    Hi Paul,
    I really enjoyed this article and learned new facts.
    I would like for you to elaborate more on the point # 10 – balance and give an example of a person who is/was driven with a character for balance.
    Dorca Lesi
    St. Martin

  • nasser mohammed says:

    absolutely with out the help of someoneelse, one can not achieve his goal.So helping each other is a must,thank you veery much.

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