Here are some games and uses for the NVC Empathy Cards (Feelings and Needs Cards). There is also an excellent instructional course here.

NVC Empathy Poker:

1. One player chooses a couple of feelings cards that are alive in them at the moment and lays them out.
2. Other players take turn offering needs cards.
“Do you feel __________ because you have a need for _____________?”

NVC Dance Floor:

To gain personal clarity or practice expressing yourself clearly, follow the steps (Jackel, Observation, Feelings, Needs, Request) on a current issue. If it’s a difficult conversation with somebody leave the Jackelout! Don’t jump to the Request too quickly and don’t be scared to go back and forth (that’s why it’s called a dance) while you figure out what you really are feeling, needing, and requesting.

My judgements and irrational thoughts are….
When I notice…
I feel…
Because I have a need for…
I would you to consider (or myself to) …
(Check this out for some more information on the NVC Dance Floor.)

Here & Now Needs:

This can work well at the start of a small group meeting. Hand a pile of cards to each member and ask them to choose one ‘alive’ need or feeling card and tell the story of that word making an effort to link it both to the present and a time when you were a child.

In a communication skills workshop:

Activity: Communications Empathy Exercise

Resources Needed: Feelings and Needs Cards and chairs arranged in various scenarios

  1. Set up chairs in different scenarios around the room:
  • Pair facing each other
  • Two chairs back to back
  • Solo chair
  • Three chairs together
  1. Invite participants to sit in each chair scenario and imagine communication in that context.
  2. Participants pick feeling and need cards that fit the scene, leaving them on the chair or using Post-it notes to jot down observations.
  3. Rotate to different scenarios, repeating the process for each.
  4. Debrief as a group by walking around each set of chairs, discussing observations and insights.

Duration: Approximately 15 to 20 minutes.