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Interpersonal Needs and Coaching Questions

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This need represents the Up/Down dimension of interpersonal relationships. With regard to stages of interpersonal and group development, control is aligned with the conflict-filled second stage of group life (Tuckman’s “Storming” stage). The primary focus associated with this need is very clear: be very careful with and concerned about the distribution of power in the relationship or group. A person with high needs for control wants to be clear about authority issues.  They wish to control when and where they express their need for control (their own control or someone else’s control). Control for these people is a nested and recursive process: they want to control their need for and their expression of their need for control.

The primary strengths associated with this need include: forcefulness, clarity of task, and a sense of responsibility. People with a high need for control are often willing to stand out front and accept the consequences of whatever comes from actions that they take or the group takes (internal locus of control). When the need for control is overwhelming, these strengths can be overused or misused. The high control person can become domineering, rigid, and insensitive. She will override other people in order to engage in whatever she believes is absolutely the right thing to do.


This need is aligned with the Near/Far dimension of interpersonal relationships. It is most apparent in the third interpersonal or group developmental stage (Tuckman’s “Norming” stage). The primary focus associated with this need is: be very careful about and concerned with the pattern of interpersonal or group relationships. Trust is critical here—all three forms of trust are being assessed. Is this person or group really interested in establishing fair and interpersonally-sensitive norms (trust in intentions)? Is this person or group skillful and knowledgeable (trust in competence) in establishing and enforcing appropriate norms? Do we mean the same thing when we talk about establishing norms (trust in perspective)? Once again, a person with a high need for openness wants to determine (or at least strongly influence) when and where he will be open and who will be open with him regarding specific interpersonal issues.

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