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Interpersonal Needs and Coaching Questions

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Schutz suggests that these three needs are sufficient to explain and predict interpersonal behavior. In addition, each type has two components: Expressed and Wanted. Expressed needs are those that the person expresses (behaves) towards others. Wanted needs are those that the person wants others to fulfill, or that direct the way in which the person wants others to behave towards him. “Expressed” and “wanted” are confusing terms. I will instead use the terms proactive and reactive. These terms are not only a little less confusing, they also correlate directly with the important concepts of internal and external locus of control. Proactive relates to internal locus and reactive relates to external locus.


This is the In/Out dimension of interpersonal relationships. With regard to stages of interpersonal and group development that were first introduced by Bruce Tuckman in “Developmental Sequence in Small Groups” (Psychological Bulletin, 1965, 63, pp. 384-399), this concern about inclusion is primary during the initial stage in building a relationship (called “Forming” by Tuckman). The primary focus for people with high needs for inclusion center on being very careful with and concerned about participation in a relationship or membership in a group. They want to determine or at least have a major “say” in determining whether or not they are engaged in a particular relationship or with a particular group. This person (and a group at this stage of development) needs to be clear about membership issues. The primary strengths associated with this need are interpersonal sensitivity, selectivity, and thoughtfulness.

Ironically, people with high inclusion needs often have very high standards with regard to the relationships and group they enter. They are looking for something quite specific. On the negative side, those with a high need of inclusion are often highly selective because fundamentally they don’t believe that most people can be trusted (in terms of either competence or intentions). “I see the dark side; hence, I must be cautious about involvement.” This means that high inclusion people can overuse or misuse their strengths by being highly vulnerable, by being loners, or by being timid. They feel quite vulnerable because they have remained “outsiders” for many years; hence, they often don’t know all of the subtle signs of acceptance, nor the strategies to be employed in gaining acceptance.

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