Meeting Our 6 Basic Human Needs During This Time of Uncertainty

During these times of instability and even chaos, each of us reacts to what is happening around us in a slightly different way. For some of us we might be experiencing different reactions from our employees, from our leaders, from our families and other people in our circles. And for some of us we might be wondering why different people take such a different response to what is happening. So, I wanted to share some information that we use in our leadership trainings to help leaders’ coach and guide their teams through any kind of change or area of resistance. What we focus on is the 6 basic human needs. Science has proven that as human beings we have 6 basic human needs that need to be fulfilled for us to feel safe and to be in a good mental state.

As leaders during tough times whether in our businesses, in our communities, or in our families I believe it’s important for us to understand these human needs so that we can better support the people around us when they are struggling.

The first basic human need is certainty which is the assurance that you will be able to avoid pain and gain pleasure. In this time of so much uncertainty this is a human need that is not being met for much of the population. But as leaders, being aware of this, we can bring some level of certainty to the people around us. Even if it’s in small ways, how can we get our teams involved in making decisions or solving problems within our business that we can control, how can we get our kids and our families involved in this new way of life or adapted to the change that is happening in our homes? We can provide certainty even in the face of uncertainty from other factors that are occurring.

“Allow people around you to challenge themselves in different ways, learn a new skill.”

The second basic human need is variety which is the need for a change or a new stimulus. This is something that leaders can also provide because now is the opportunity to think differently about our businesses, to think differently about our family, and how we operate and to provide some variety in the normal course of life. Allow people around you to challenge themselves in different ways, learn a new skill, or take on a new responsibility to help them meet this need.

The third basic human need is significance which comes from feeling unique, important, special or truly needed. Right now, so many of us are struggling with how to meet this basic human need because we feel like so much of what is happening is out of our control. This is how people feel with any change regardless of the situation. So, it is important for us to make sure the people around us feel significant each day in some way, even if it’s small.  How can we involve them in a new task or new project or idea to make them feel like they’re part of something that is having an impact?

The fourth basic human need is connection and love which is really a strong feeling of closeness or union with someone or something. With the major change that is occurring right now, people are feeling isolated more than they ever have before. Our families are isolated from their friends, our employees are isolated from us and from each other. This feeling of connection and love must come from another place than before to meet this basic human need. Leaders need to find different ways to connect with each of the people in their lives and for some of us that means connecting via video and seeing someone’s face to let them know that you are connected and thinking about them. Whether that’s an employee whose working remote or it’s a relative who you’re unable to see during this time, making sure you are truly connecting with them visually to help them feel connected is crucial.

“During this time of uncertainty is important for us to help ourselves and others find ways to continue to grow.”

The fifth basic human need is growth which is an expansion of our capacity, our capability and our understanding. People need to be stimulated and feel like they are continuing to grow. During this time of uncertainty is important for us to help ourselves and others find ways to continue to grow. Whether that’s taking an online class, or using a webinar or other resource to learn a new skill, or it’s reading a book that we’ve been wanting to read, we need to find ways to stimulate growth and to feel like we are moving forward instead of standing still.

The sixth and final basic human need is contribution which is a sense of service and focus on helping, giving to and supporting others. Many of us right now are trying to find ways to contribute to what’s going on but we feel helpless at times. Helping those around us find ways to contribute to others whether it’s with their knowledge, their time, or other resources can help us feel like we are making a difference, even if it’s small.  We need to help those around us find a way to feel like they are contributing to something, it could be as simple as helping out around the house with a task for our kids,  or for our employees it could be something around contributing to a discussion or problem solving on an issue that we need to resolve in the business.

As we look at these 6 basic human needs is easy to understand why people are feeling anxious, uncertain and helpless during this time of change for our world. As leaders there are so many things that we cannot fix or have an impact on, but there are so many things that we can help the people around us with. Understanding these basic human needs will help you understand how each person in your life – work, family or community is dealing with the situation and what basic human need are they struggling to fill for themselves during this time. I truly believe this is an area where we can help each other most during this time by helping each other articulate what basic human needs are not being met and finding ways to support each other in meeting those needs.

So, my challenge for you today is to reach out to a few people around you and ask them which of these basic human needs they are struggling to fulfill today and then help them find solutions.