“Negative Behaviors Are Clues to Your Personal Needs and Those of Your Characters”
According to the Center for Nonviolent Communication, there are 8 areas of personal needs. Momentum Works, Inc listed 20 personal needs as excerpted from Coach University. I put these 20 needs beside the areas I thought they would belong. Feel free to move them around in an order that suits you.
- Connection – be accepted, be cared for, be needed, acknowledged, be loved, to communicate
- Honesty – authenticity, fairness
- Meaning – duty, recognition, work, to accomplish,
- Physical Well-Being (I think, Mental Well-Being, too.) – be comfortable, security
- Peace – certainty, order, safety
- Play – joy, humor, be right, excitement
- Autonomy (freedom of choice) – be free, to control, power
You and your character have the same basic needs. In your life, you try to solve your problems with as few negative traits as possible. However, when you bring a make-believe character to life, it’s a little different. In the situation described in your story, make at least three primary needs show up asking for the most attention. It’s your job as a writer to make them stand out. It’s your job to exaggerate, describe, and magnify these flaws so readers can see, hear, touch, smell, and taste them up close.
In reading “Identifying Your Personal Needs” by Momentum Works Inc. that used an excerpt from Coach University, I started to laugh. They listed reasons that you might do a crazy thing like procrastinate and whine. Here are a few personal experiences with these traits and one I added which was pout.
You might do it for safety, independence, and/or excitement.
I do know that I have procrastinated many times in my life. I never thought it was for one of these needs. Afraid of risks…wanting my way…oh. yes.
When I was in college, one of our English assignments was to read Moby Dick. It was a thick book. I had no interest in the sea, whales, or fishermen. The night before it was due, I hid myself in the broom closet in my college dorm and read Moby Dick aloud. I took the test on it the next day. I did well on it. I was a bit sleepy, but I took a nap the next afternoon after classes. Perhaps other things are more exciting than something we have deemed we have to do or other people have deemed we must do.
You might whine for security, control, power, acceptance, and/or attention.
I admit I might have done this for control and or attention, especially when I was a young child. My mother would take me and my sister visiting a neighbor. The only time I knew that she would leave immediately was if it looked like it was going to rain. When I was ready to go, I’d say, “I want to go home, now. It’s going to rain.” Even if the sun was shining brightly. Even if there wasn’t a cloud in the sky. I must confess that the first time I said this, it worked. However, the newness wore off much too quickly. My efforts to get back home before many hours elapsed failed miserably.
Pout. The silent whine.
You might pout to show displeasure by frowning and thrusting out your lips. You do it for power, control, and attention.
I pouted to show my long-term brooding ill humor. I did it to protest in silent resentment. When I didn’t get my way, if whining didn’t work, I pouted. Pouting involved sticking out my lips as far forward as I possibly could. My lips during these times made great diving boards. Alas and alack. Pouting usually got me into deeper water than I cared to tread. Plus, I still didn’t get my way.
There are other negative habits, such as: being late, over-committing, under-achieving, yelling, and watching television (instead of doing a chore). I’d like for you to choose one of these and tell me why you might do this. What need were you trying to furnish when you did it?
Would you share funny stories about what you did when you didn’t get your way when you were a child? I’m sure you’ve corrected these behaviors as an adult. If not, it’s okay. You can share the things you’ve seen others do.
Thinking about these needs and negative behaviors might give you a few ideas of character traits to bring a few of your characters to life. Thank you for reading my blog. I enjoyed writing it. I look forward to hearing from you.
- Center for Nonviolent Communication. “Needs Inventory:” http://www.cnvc.org/Training/needs-inventory Copyright © 2005 Website: www.cnvc.org Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Phone: +1.505-244-404.
- Guy Harris. “Six Tips for Confronting Bad Workplace Behaviors:”
- Steven H. Appelbaum, Giulio David Iaconi and Albert Matousek. “Positive and Negative Deviant Workplace Behaviors: Causes, Impacts, and Solutions:” http://www.appelbaumconsultants.com/articles/2007-08/positiveANDnegative.PDF
Tony Belak. “How To Handle Difficult Behavior In The Workplace:” http://www.mediate.com/articles/belak4.cfm
- Momentum Works, Inc. Excerpt from Coach University. “Identifying Your Personal Needs:” http://www.goal-setting-help.com/needs-list.html
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