I’m a daily Audible listener and fan of Tony Robbins. One of the interesting parallels I’ve discovered is between personal and business relationships. Therefore, I listen to a lot of books on relationship issues, and apply what I learn to the issues my clients face in their business dealings.

Today I finished listening to, for the second time in a row, Relationship Breakthrough by Cloe Madanes. Many of the teachings she shares are classic Robbins’ material that I’ve heard before, but it’s been a while.

The primary concept shared was based on Tony’s discovery decades ago of what he calls the 6 basic human needs:

1. Certainty – stability, security, predictability
2. Variety – change, excitement, stimuli
3. Significance – importance, recognition, acknowledgement
4. Love/connection – closeness, acceptance, affiliation
5. Growth – development, expansion, learning
6. Contribution – impact, legacy, making a difference

In Tony’s travels all over the world, regardless of race, religion, gender, socio-economic status, or any other qualifier, every human on the planet makes choices to satisfy all 6 of those needs. Sometimes the needs must be met by the individual, sometimes they must be met by others. The primary needs vary from person to person, and most people have 2 primary needs they work to satisfy more than the other 4.

For example, a person who has a primary need for significance will make choices and take actions that make him or her feel important before following suit to satisfy his or her other needs. Significance could be defined in many ways; being the head of an organization, the primary breadwinner in the household, or achieving fame as an entertainer. The vehicles by which people satisfy their primary needs differ from one person to the next.

If your next primary need is certainty, the vehicles by which you achieve certainty could be having $5M in your retirement fund, making low-risk investment decisions, or creating long-range strategic plans for both your personal and professional life.

In your business or professional life, you also strive to meet the 6 basic human needs, and just like in personal relationships, it’s when people are trying to achieve different primary needs that conflict arises.

Let’s say you as the executive have a primary need for certainty in your work, and a secondary need for contribution. You will make choices and decisions to meet your primary needs. Perhaps you do more of the tactical work that your team should be doing to ensure your job is secure. As a result, you contribute to bottom line growth and success of the company. The downside is you work yourself excessively, creating added stress for yourself and don’t receive the recognition you seek for your hard work.

One of your team members may have the primary needs for significance and variety. To achieve significance she employs behavior that gets attention; excuses disguised as dramatic stories, playing the victim, or talking a lot without really saying much. She achieves variety by doing her job at the absolute fringe of expectations, and adding in her own creative methods that aren’t really part of her role but that she enjoys doing more.

Conflict arises because you are each working to fulfill your very different primary needs at work, and you’re both going about it differently. As the executive, if you can understand your team members’ primary needs and coach her within the parameters of her role to satisfy them, she’ll be happier and more productive, and you’ll satisfy your needs at the same time.

Take a closer look at what your primary needs are at work, and the choices and decisions you make to achieve them. Then, look around at your team and see if you can uncover how they are also trying to meet their own primary needs. If you need help cutting through the conflict and helping everyone achieve their needs together, give me a call. You’ll be satisfying my need to make a contribution to your organization :o)

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