If you’ve followed my blog for a while or are already familiar with PCM, you know that according to Taibi Kahler’s research, in order for us to be efficient, communicate effectively with others and avoid miscommunication and unproductive interactions, we need to meet our Psychological Needs.
Psychological Needs are born with attention and motivational desires that must be met in an individual if they are to be functioning effectively and productively.
If we know our Personality Structure, we know what Psychological Needs we must satisfy. When our needs are met we are more productive and have more joy.
The Concept of Psychological Needs
At any time in our life, the most important Psychological Need(s) that we need to meet are those of the Phase Personality Type, then those of our Base Personality Type, then of the floors going up from the Base.
According to psychology research, when we do not get our Psychological Needs met positively, we attempt to get the very same needs met in a negative way. This is usually outside of our conscious awareness, as these are mechanisms we have learned in early childhood, which helped us in the past to cope with difficult situations, but which have not been revised by the adult conscious mind and might not be so helpful today, in our grown-ups reality. However, unless we examine ourselves and make a conscious long-term effort to change these negative behaviours, we cannot influence them.
Well, one of the key elements that make PCM so practical and useful (and why NASA decided to use it), is that, according to Taibi’s research, this negative behaviour that we show under stress is observable, repetitive, sequential and predictable. In PCM we call it “Distress sequence”.
Furthermore, different psychological needs unmet will lead to different distress sequences. That is why the PCM model can predict what a person is likely to do in distress. And this is why we can also know what we can do to help someone. By observing how they behave when under stress, we will understand what Psychological Need(s) they need to have met in order to get back to productive and positive behaviours.
Once we understand what their main psychological need is, we will know how to invite them out of their distress sequence, by meeting that need. It will be up to them to accept our invitation out of stress or not. If they accept it, they will come back to their constructive, positive and productive behaviours.
What happens when one cannot meet those main Psychological Needs?
This is one issue where I can share an example from my personal life: this is the real example of my partner. He knows that I use him as an example in this article and he is ok with it. He loves PCM and supports my writing 😊. He was also my first PCM trainee when I got certified as a trainer, so he has learned a lot about the model and we can really say that this model has made our relationship better and stronger…
When under stress, my partner preaches. A lot. It has a lot to do with the fact that he feels undervalued and underpaid in his current job as a data engineer. He has done a PhD and postdoc at Imperial College London in a relevant subject for his job, but when he got his job in the industry, they considered his PhD and post-doc experience to be equivalent to “attending classes, when in fact he did a lot of project management, coding, working with companies such as McLaren who implemented his PhD results for better car building.
Well, long story short: he is continuously stressed about this situation and thus, constantly complains and preaches about how he is being judged by less educated people, who don’t have a PhD and who, many times, don’t even understand the depths of his technical knowledge. And how this is not right, etc. etc.
Because I know the PCM model, his personality structure (especially his Base and Phase Personality Types) and I observe his “distress sequence”, I know that, in his case, if he preaches and focuses on the negative, then his two main Psychological Needs of Recognition of Work and Recognition of Convictions are not met.
Unfortunately, I cannot offer him much recognition for work, which is one painful point for him. This is so important for him, as he really feels that all the years he has invested in a difficult, interesting and highly technical PhD and post-doc are not taken into consideration. This translates into me actually not being able to meet one of his most important Psychological Needs…
We have eight Psychological Needs. Meet those you can meet.
What can I do? Well, I can try to meet the other Main Psychological need and recognise his convictions/beliefs. Even if I may not agree 100% with what he says I can say “I understand your point of view”, “I know where you’re coming from” and I can really Listen.
Furthermore, as I was mentioning earlier, the most important Psychological Need(s) that we need to meet are those of the Phase Personality Type, then those of our Base Personality Type, then of the floors going up from the Base.
This means that knowing that I cannot help with one of his main Psychological Needs (that of his Phase), then I can and should focus on the needs of his Base and then of the rest of the floors, starting from the bottom and going up. It will still help him a lot and will keep him, most of the times, out of his distress sequence.
I hope you found this article useful. Thank you for reading!
PS: A big reason I write is to meet people so feel free to say Hi on Linkedin here as I’d love to learn more about you.
Following the great feedback received for the Open PCM Workshop I organised this spring and the request for a similar workshop in Romanian, I decided to organise two Open PCM Workshops in autumn 2021: one in English and one in Romanian. Please register your interest HERE. Logistical details will be decided together with the interested participants. Please feel free to ask me any questions HERE.
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