Understanding People’s Desire and How to Manage Them.

Managing People 1500x750

Whether we agree with it or not,  desire is what determines how people react to every aspect of their lives, and it determines how we see things around us as human beings. Our desires are what make us special. Many people strive to understand and know what people desire. This is not an easy task as the human mind is very complicated and complex, and it is very hard to tell what a person desires. Knowing a person’s desire can only be done when you have properly studied the person and are able to tell how they react to certain situations and the words they use in those situations.

Before we look at how to understand what people desire,  let us take a brief look at the meaning of desire and the concept around it.

What Is Desire?

Desire,  most times referred to as wants, cravings, wishes or longings is a state of mind where you want something and you desperately hope to get it.

Desire, in most cases, is propelled by what you believe in as a person, and this is what motivates people to take certain actions or say certain things. Desire makes something appear good, and this is because you are ready to do anything to get that thing you desperately want. When you are carrying out whatever activity it is to obtain what you desire, the action appears to be pleasurable at the time, regardless of the effects it may have on you later on.

The concept of desire believes that desire has the ability to contribute to your happiness as a person not minding the amount of pleasure or displeasure you might pass through to see that you get what you want.  To a layman,  desire is seen as an emotion or a type of feeling but to psychologists,  desire does not fall under the group of basic emotions or feelings. Psychologists see desire as a need that comes from your human body and structure,  for example,  your stomach needing food causes you to desire a specific type of meal. Desire is a feeling that is associated with dissatisfaction. It can lead to new or better things and it can also lead to terrible things.  Desire is merely a possibility that is, you are not sure it’s going to happen.

Types Of Desire

There are four types of desire. Knowing the four types of desire will help you understand the human mind, body and how it works.


This has to do with gratification or pleasure from physical things,  that is things you can see, touch, smell or taste, etc. The thought or sense of gratification is what makes you hold onto your thoughts of having your desires met and as a result of this,  you employ your emotions and intelligence to work to make sure that you get that which you desire. Most people spend a lot of time trying to get their physical desires but the truth is physical desires can never be satisfied. You will always want a new pair of shoes or a new dress or a new bag. You will always want to taste the most expensive cuisine. All these are physical desires and even though physical desires are somehow connected to your body’s well-being, your body will continue to age or break down and a lot of work will be needed to maintain it.  This is somewhat a vague exercise as wants (physical desires) can never be satisfied.


The need to love and be loved and the need for recognition is under this category.  Emotional desire is a result of you not paying attention to yourself and needing gratification from other people to feel important.  Most times,  this is due to past experiences.  Emotional desires push you to look for fulfilment outside. You are always looking for someone to keep you company or someone to share your memories with or someone to recognise you. When people realise that you need validation from them to feel good about yourself,  they might decide to prey on you. The difference between physical desire and emotional desire is that physical desires might reduce when the body begins to age and gets weak but emotional desires continue to live on except you begin to see your self in a better light and reduce your dependence on people around. Emotional desires are a  result of you losing the memory of your true identity and becoming dependent on the picture other people paint of you.


Satisfaction from intellectual desires usually lasts longer than the satisfaction from physical and emotional desire, this is because intellectual desire happens when every other aspect of your life is going well but you feel there is something more to be achieved.  This is a result of you engaging your mind in vigorous thinking and research work. Some examples of intellectual desires are going on a spiritual journey or starting an NGO or giving your time and self to a social or religious cause.  Intellectual desire has given birth to one of the most prominent thinkers, inventors and scientists.


Transcendental means anything supernatural or beyond human experience. Transcendental desire is simply a result of you realizing that it is futile to continuously satisfy the first three types of desire.  You have this fire inside you to find out more about yourself and realize who you truly are.  Satisfying your transcendental desire will break you free from ignorance and help you become your true self. It breaks you free from the shackles of accepting your present situation and makes you look for ways to improve yourself. People with this type of desire later turn out to be great religious and spiritual leaders.

Now that we know what desire is and the four levels of desire, let us look at how to understand what people desire.

Woman reaching out to grab someones hand

How To Understand What People Desire

To understand people’s desires, you need to discover what people need the most. To achieve this, there are a few steps you can take to discover what people truly want. The steps that will be listed are an easy and simplified way for you to understand what a person desires although you need to be ready to spend a lot of time (and in some cases, resources) to achieve what you want because this is not something that can be achieved in one day except the person you want to understand is in a vulnerable state.

1. Understand What Motivates People

Even though every human is motivated by different, or at most similar things,  you need to understand and know about these things that motivate people to do the things they do.  There are a lot of things that motivate people to do things they do and most of these things are physical desires.  Money is one of the most powerful things that is used to motivate people. The truth is everybody wants money not because it is a fundamental human desire but because of what money gives them.  People go after money because of things like recognition,  power,  independence,  honour, immunity, status quo, respect, etc. These things are known as primary human desires. It is important to note that even though money is used motivate people, emotional and mental desires also motivate people to do certain things.

2. Find Thier Primary Motivation

There are a lot of primary motivating desires. Some of them are self-direction, excitement, pleasure, success, power, social status, security, acceptance, appreciation, protection, and many more. You need to find out which of these primary motivating desires is important to this person. Once you’ve identified this person’s primary motivating desires, determine which one is the most unfulfilled. You can do this by asking the person personal and controversial questions. You can also look at what the person wears, their personal property, and who they idolize. Also, pay close attention to what they say when they are angry, sad, happy, frightened, etc. For this step,  you need to be a little bit persuasive, but do it in a way that is not suspicious. Approach the person from a “help me to understand you” point of view so that you will be able to see things from the person’s perspective. Doing this will help you notice a lot of things and connect the dots to understand what motivates the person. This way, you will have a better understanding of what the person desires.

3. Explore The Extent Of The Person’s Desire

Just like what was said when we were looking at desire and the types of desire, people will do anything to fulfil their desires. Exploring the extent of the person’s desire will help you have a proper understanding of the person’s desire and know the extent they are ready to go to see that they get their desires fulfilled.

Now that you have an idea of how to understand what people desire, it is important to note that this skill, once properly mastered, should not be used for bad reasons. Understanding people’s desires and using them against them is a type of manipulative move referred to as “Blackmailing”.

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