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But If You Try Sometimes, You’ll Find You Get What You Need

But If You Try Sometimes, You’ll Find You Get What You Need

Written by Pamela Valencia, Solutions Consultant, CPP Professional Services

Developing skills to work effectively and to appreciate the interpersonal needs of others without ignoring your own.


Our interpersonal needs do not define us but rather help us understand our reluctance or motivation to behave in certain ways. We can always choose how we want to proceed or react to a situation, and developing the skills to realize what works for both ourselves and others, our leaders, or the team is important. At the very core of people’s interpersonal needs is the need to be accepted, respected, and appreciated by others, and everyone has this need met in different ways.


If your interpersonal needs are low, chances are that you don’t feel a strong pull to be around others. Intellectual stimulation, activities you do alone, and privacy are probably more important to you. If your interpersonal needs fall more in the medium range, your interaction with others may sometimes be a source of satisfaction, but it will depend on with whom and the context of the situation.


One of the benefits for those of you who fall into one of those categories is that you probably add value to your team and organization through the work you do on your own as an individual contributor. And although you may tend to be a private person, you may interact with a select few people whom you’ve come to trust and whose opinions you value. Additionally, while you probably prefer to work alone much of the time, you may welcome certain opportunities to present your work to or to discuss it with people who can truly understand it. Likewise, in public situations you are more likely to contribute if the topic is directly related to you or your acknowledged expertise—otherwise, you may not volunteer.


It is important that you think strategically about taking care of your needs, while at the same time demonstrating to others that you are cooperative, that you can be a part of a group or team. If you are working with a group, consider setting up your workday so that you have sufficient time for thinking and planning. It is also important to be able to clearly communicate your need for private time (whether as part of your work life or your home life), maybe arranging it for a certain time each day so that those around you come to expect it. And when you are interacting with others, you can think of it as building up a healthy interaction bank account, one from which you can withdraw later.


If your interpersonal needs are medium to high, then interaction with others will usually be a source of satisfaction for you (getting those interpersonal needs met), and you probably have regular contact with friends. People with medium-high or high interpersonal needs prefer regular contact with a large group of friends, and at the high end may avoid situations that require working alone for long periods of time.


One of the positives of having high interpersonal needs is that you probably have a very high interest in spending time and energy interacting with coworkers rather than working independently on your own projects. You may even pride yourself on being a team player and believe you do your best work when you can interact and collaborate with others frequently. Jumping into a group project or joining a team may seem like second nature to you, as well as communicating your opinions and feelings. You probably have a large network of people you can call on for support or just to share information.


To better develop your behavioral skills, think about when you need to be the center of attention—or at least share the stage—and when it would be better to let others take the lead. If you have to work alone on a project, recognize that you may need to reenergize by connecting with others and discussing your project. But also think about which projects and activities can strategically enhance your team, your career, and your relationships prior to jumping in to assist. If you have the strong desire to connect with your colleagues or coworkers, consider arranging time outside the workplace to connect (through social activities, volunteering, and so on).


Sometimes we can develop one of our most important skills by taking the time to examine our motivations and flexing our style to better meet not only our own interpersonal needs but the needs of others, as well.


Learn more about the FIRO-B assessment that measures expressed and wanted interpersonal needs.


This blog is one in a series of many about Relationships and Conflict:

Read the first part of this blog post: Why’d You Do THAT?! Understanding Interpersonal Needs & Motivations

Read the first blog post in the Relationships and Conflict series: Increasing Self-Awareness and Understanding Team

Relationships with the MBTI Assessment

Want an overview of the entire Relationships and Conflict series in a creative visual – yeah, we’ve got that too.

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