Identifying Your Core Needs: An Interview with Dr. Linda Berens

January 12, 2023 Vicki Stanford

What are my core needs? How can I better understand people? How can I reduce conflict?

These are just some of the questions that Dr. Linda Berens, author of Understanding Yourself and Others and creator of The Ken Blanchard Companies®’ new Essential Motivators™ learning program, addressed during an interview with Chad Gordon on the Blanchard LeaderChat podcast.

Berens shared some key takeaways from the Essential Motivators model used in the program, which explains why we act as we do. It’s based on temperament theory, which traces its roots back over 2,000 years to ancient Greek philosophy. Berens shared some of the core needs of each of the temperaments and why it’s essential for everyone in today’s world to understand what motivates ourselves and others.

Each pattern has a core psychological need that must be met, says Berens. In the Essential Motivators program, the four temperaments are expressed as Air, Water, Fire, and Earth.

  • For people of the Air temperament, the core psychological need is to be competent and knowledgeable and to have mastery
  • For people of the Water temperament, the core psychological need is to have a sense of unique identity, not only for themselves, but for others as well.
  • For people of the Fire temperament, the core need is to have an impact and have the freedom to do what they see needs to be done in the moment.
  • For people of the Earth temperament, the core psychological need is to have stability and a hunger for responsibility.

Berens says it’s a huge deal when people aren’t getting their needs met. “We become stressed and may not even know it,” she says. She suggests that some searches for purpose and a better job fit driving the Great Resignation can be satisfied through a better understanding of temperament.

Berens explains how the temperament model allows us to reclaim parts of ourselves that may have been lost along the way. This is helpful for individuals in their personal search for meaning. It’s also helpful for managers looking to create an environment where people stay and thrive because their job is a great fit.

Berens also believes a better understanding of temperament theory can broaden our perspective and ability to see situations from another person’s point of view. This skill is invaluable because it is the solution to many workplace conflicts. For example, a person with one pattern will perceive and approach a challenge differently than someone with another pattern. With this deeper knowledge, we can better navigate the minefield of inevitable disagreements that await at work.

“When you understand that people are wired differently,” says Berens, “it gives you a chance to shift your perspective and accept others for who they are. When you can see people in a different light, you become more accepting of them.”

Berens goes on to share some additional insights in the podcast, including comparisons to other popular self-discovery tools like DiSC and MBTI. And don’t miss Ken Blanchard sharing his thoughts and takeaways about the use of temperaments at the end of the interview!

To hear more, access the podcast via this link.

About the Author

Vicki Stanford

Vicki Stanford is a marketing director for Blanchard®. She is the producer of the LeaderChat podcast and a contributing writer for the Ignite! newsletter.

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