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Understanding the 6 Human Psychological Needs

Sometimes, we do and say things that don’t make sense to others. This is because as humans, our choices and behaviours are almost always driven by the need to meet one or more of our 6 Human Psychological Needs. Although not immediately obvious to others, through our actions, we are simply trying to get our psychological needs met. What are the 6 Human Psychological Needs? Tony Robbins identified 6 Human Psychological Needs by studying 'Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs' which is a theory in psychology.

Tony believes that everyone is, or can be, motivated by their desire to meet them . The first four, certainty, variety, significance, and love/connection are essential for human survival. The last two needs, Growth and Contribution, are required for human actualisation / fulfilment. According to Robbins, we cannot be truly fulfilled when we do not meet the last two needs. Throughout our lives however, one or two of these needs will dominate us so strongly that we can see this in our and others daily decisions and behaviour. A more detailed explanation of each of the 6 needs is as follows;

• Certainty: This relates to the need for comfort and safety in both our relationships and our physical environment. Of course, the levels of certainty and security required by each person is different. An individual driven by the need for certainty might not choose to be self employed for instance, or you may note that they may be a very keen timekeeper.

• Variety: This is the need for variety, change and diversity that will challenge and provide development opportunities, both emotionally and physically. A person with a strict daily routine will ultimately seek out variety if this need is one of their main drivers. An individual driven by this need may for example seek out learning and development opportunities wherever and whenever possible.

• Significance: We all want to feel important: for our life to have meaning and significance. This need is most often met through work or relationships. Being driven by the need for significance can lead us to raise our standards, however if we are too focused on it, we may find that we have trouble forming meaningful relationships with others. We have all experienced or seen someone who comes across as egotistical. Very often these people have experienced feeling insignificant either in childhood, past/current relationships or in other circumstances.

• Love and Connection: It would be hard to argue against the human need for love. We want to be cared for and cared about, as well as care for and about others. This need explains why deep down we have a strong desire to experience meaningful connection with other human beings. It can be met through involvement in teams at work or in sporting activities, or through close groups of friends. Whether personally or professionally, the need to be loved is universal.

• Growth: In nature, anything that is not growing is dying or already dead. In humans, the growth need relates to our desire to develop emotionally and intellectually as well as physically. As we go through life, overcome challenges and achieve our goals, we continuously learn and grow.

• Contribution: This is a need to give back. This can be demonstrated by being involved with our community, charities or passing on knowledge so that we are contributing to a cause greater than oneself. It is human nature to have this desire to want to give back, or to make a difference.

Interesting questions to consider

• Identify your top two needs. How do they impact upon your decisions and behaviour?

• Are you meeting these needs with positive or negative action?

• If you have a partner what are their top needs? How does this impact on his/her decisions and behaviour?

• In what way do these top drivers clash or sit comfortably with your partners?

• How do your top needs differ from the needs of those you work with on a daily basis, and what are the implications of this? How can you modify your behaviour and communication style in order to have a more productive relationship?

• Can you identify a situation from a past encounter where you have misunderstood someone in your personal or professional life? How might understanding their and your top needs help explain their behaviour?

• What might you do differently now that you have an understanding of this theory?