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Needs, Wants and Likes


Explanations > Needs > Needs, Wants and Likes

Needs | Wants | LikesNegotiability | So what?


What we say we need is not always what we really need. Sometimes we just want it, or maybe even less. Understanding these in other people (and yourself, for that matter) gives you a long lever with which to negotiate.


In the absolute sense, needs are things without which we cannot survive. We need air, food and water. We also have needs in negotiations and persuasions. For example, when I am buying a house, I need three bedrooms because we have two children.

Walk-away position

The practical effect of needs is that they define the walk-away position. If a house is marvelous in all other respects, but has only two bedrooms, they I will not buy it, no matter what you offer to do.

Often unspoken

Needs are sometimes also called 'Musts', because they are things we must have. They are also called 'hygiene needs' or 'basic needs'. They are often not talked about being assumed as a basic essential. When buying a car, you would not ask if there were four wheels on the car, but you most certainly need them!

Dissatisfiers more than satisfiers

If needs are not met, they result in people being dissatisfied. If they are met then the satisfaction either not noticed or is very low level. 

Wants are sometimes called 'preferences'.


Wants are based on our perceptions. Although they are not absolute needs, they are pretty high up on the priority list. In buying a house, I want a big kitchen.


Wants are often negotiable, although depending on the strength of the want, I may argue differently. If the house has a wonderful garden and the scope to extend the kitchen at a later date, then I may concede the point.

Often spoken

We often talk most about the things we want, as they are uppermost in our mind, and will pay most attention to them when we have the opportunity. When visiting a house, the first place I want to see is the kitchen.

Dissatisfiers and satisfiers

If wants are met, they result in satisfaction levels in proportion to how well the want is met, ranging from dissatisfaction when they are not met to strong satisfaction when they are met well.


Likes are the weakest level of need. They are the 'nice-to-haves' or 'like to haves', the icing on the cake. I would like a house with a big garden, but I'll probably settle for a medium-sized one.

Often unspoken

Sometimes I do not know what I like until I see it. Thus likes can be a surprise item.

Satisfiers more than dissatifiers

Likes are also called 'wishes', 'delight needs' or 'excitement needs' as when they are met, they result in delight and excitement. As the level of expectation for likes is low, if I do not get the things I like, I am not likely to be very unhappy about it. 


Needs, wants and likes are often tradeable. People will accept several wants for a in place of a need that is high, but not absolute. And several likes may well be accepted in place of a want.

So what?

So find out what they need, want and like -- and it will not necessarily be as they tell you (if at all). Try offering or taking away and see how they react. Try offering exchanges between them. Explore the mutability of their position.

Thus find out their minimum walk-away position and what it will cost you. Then find out what else you can get by playing with the likes and wants. 


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