Friday, April 2, 2010

People Need People

Friday, April 2, 2010

FIRO-B is an instrument that has been widely used for over 50 years. It can be a great value-addition to self-development, building team effectiveness and leadership development.  I have often heard some trainers belittle it, saying that over the years it has lost its value. Further, many often claim that it is easy to fake the instrument. I can only say that both these are a gross generalizations. As for faking the instrument, I can safely say that anyone who makes this tall claim doesn't really know the instrument!
During early 1950s, William Schutz was asked by the US Navy if he could determine which kind of people would work better together in teams. Schutz's research findings led to his theory of interpersonal relations and development of the well-known FIRO-B instrument.
I heard a nice little story about Schutz. One day Schutz returned home and his 8 year-old daughter asked for help with her homework. He replied that he was busy and that she could do it herself. The little girl then said - "Dad, people need people".
Whether this story is true or not, the innocent phrase does form the basis for FIRO-B. Schutz propounded that when a group of people come together, they look for ways to fulfill their needs. Since individuals differ in their 'need to fulfill these needs', there must be a way to assess these and thus predict the resultant behaviour(s).
When I get into a new group (formal or informal, it doesn't matter), I would wonder about these questions.

Am in in or out? Am I included in the scheme of things? How much can I include others in my scheme of things?
Am I above or below? To what extent do I control others, and let others control me?
As I close or distant?

Schutz identified the needs underlying these three questions as Inclusion, Control and Affection.

Further, people express their behaviour towards others in two ways

1. Needing people to receive from (Wanted behaviour)
2. Needing people to give to (Expressed behaviour)

Combining the three needs of I C and A and two behavioural elements of E and W, the FIRO-B instrument computes the answers to 54 questions into six scores. Expressed Inclusion (EI), Wanted Inclusion (WI), Expressed Control (EC), Wanted Control (WC), Expressed Affection (EA) and Wanted Affection (WA).

Your FIRO-B scores thus look look like an innocuous table with just six numbers. But prepare to be surprised when you hear teh interpretations that can be drawn from these numbers.

An important point to remember about FIRO-B is that deals with observable behaviour. If even the most noble intent is not put into real action that can  be observed, FIRO-B can't tell you much about that. One of the commonest query that people have about psychometric scores is 'can these scores change over time'. As far as FIRO-B scores are concerned, they can certainly change over time. After all, our behaviour does undergo a process of evolution over time.

Note - FIRO-B and Fundamental Interpersonal Relations Orientation are registered trademarks of CPP, Inc.


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