Every individual has some proportion of all 16 basic needs described in the Reiss Desire Profile which you can see here. Each person person will have a high desire for some traits, others traits will be on the low end and some will be in the neutral mid-zone. The places where we share a high desire for a specific trait or traits with another person will typically be a bonding experience. For example, people with a high desire for status will seek out environments that support this desire and other people who share this sensitivity… think Conde Nast and a building full of people dressed in black.

On the other hand when people are on either end of the spectrum on the same trait, they may experience conflict. Imagine someone with a high need for saving in relationship with someone who spends freely. This can provide challenges both personally and in the workplace.

My husband has a high need for physical activity. His idea of a good day might include 36 holes on two challenging golf courses, a curling bonspiel (Canadian eh!) or volunteering to dig, cement and instal water cachement systems in Guatemala. My idea of a great day is hearing all about it over a glass of wine at dinner. We have been able to work this particular conflict out especially since we both have a high need for independence and we both enjoy dinner.

Other discrepancies have created greater challenges for me. I have a high need for acceptance which is a challenge for many people in the workplace. If a person with a low need for acceptance doesn’t have a modicum of awareness this can be a challenge. They might not care what others think of them – if THEY are okay with things they can go ahead. What others think may not even be on their radar screen. Some industries like the film industry also call for a certain thick skin. If you take things personally in this high pressure environment, you may not last very long.

I have learned over the years that I work best with others who are expedient. If someone has a high need for honour and needs to follow the traditions of the way things were done step by step, I am not the best business partner for them. I want to get on with it – move things forward – rock and roll. (Oops getting carried away here). I am the Queen of the lazy man’s load – pile thing up to make one trip even when 3 may be required -I am not proud of it but accept that this is typically my modus operandi.

You cannot change a person’s desires or negotiate them out of it. You can’t explain it with the hopes of changing another. You can agree to disagree. You can accept that the other person is different and build on the areas of commonality. The traits that you both rank in the neutral area do not have the same impact on the quality of the relationship.

Knowing who you are – accepting yourself – being transparent with others – accepting them and making clear agreements about areas of difference provide 5 steps toward healthy relationships.

Category: Other Assessments / Relationships
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