The future is unknown. Our enemy is invisible. Under current global circumstances, stress takes a toll on our relationships. The health of our relationships impacts our environments, our mental health, our drive and engagement. Every outcome relies on our ability to work well, communicate and solve issues with others. The best results are created through relationships.

People have relationships within themselves, with each other, and with their work. Re­lationships are psychological connections over time; they have history, the present mo­ment, and expectations for the future. Im­proving relationships requires beginning with self-awareness. Increased self-awareness re­sults from greater conscious understanding of the true self, and the reduction or remov­al of defenses against self-understanding. Greater self-awareness enables more clear and accurate understanding of others.

Firstly, we need to understand who we are and recognize that each person experiences crisis and conflict in their own way. Although we look pretty much the same on the outside, our values, beliefs and needs can be dramat­ically different. Whatever our race, color or creed, we all seek self-respect, self-esteem and feelings of personal worth.

All people share a desire to feel good about themselves. Different people experience these feelings in different ways, which is a part of their personality. Each person has his/her own system of motives and values which is called a Motivational Value System.

A Motivational Value System (MVS) is a simple and practical way of thinking about people and personality types from the per­spective of interrelated motives. MVS helps to explain the complex reasons that people do the things they do. Behavior is WHAT we do and say, and motivation is the rea­son WHY we do or say something. Behavior is something we manage to enable us to achieve our valued goals and allows us to validate our self-worth.

The MVS gives meaning to behavior, rela­tionships, and situations. It acts as a filter through which life is perceived, interpreted, and understood. Filters stop some things and allow other things through. The MVS fil­ters and influences perception; information deemed important is readily received, but information deemed irrelevant is actively or even subconsciously screened out of aware­ness. Differences in personal filters can help to explain why two people can have entirely different memories of a shared experience. A Motivation Value System is a person’s unique blend of Blue, Red and Green (nurtur­ant, directive, autonomizing) motivations.

Altruistic–Nurturing motivation (BLUE)
Basic sense of worth comes from caring about others. (PEOPLE)

  • Feel good when they can genuinely help and when this help is acknowledged and appreciated
  • Likely to feel hurt if efforts to help are rejected
  • Would not wish to be seen as selfish, cold or unfeeling
  • Can appear totally immersed in people issues, often showing intense emotions, sometimes becoming a “victim” to these emotions

Assertive–Directing motivation (RED)
Basic sense of worth comes from getting things done. (PERFORMANCE)

  • Feel good when they can achieve re­sults
  • Inclined to interpret situations in a competitive way and winning is of­ten seen as the measure of the person
  • Like to take control of events, to lead
  • Usually have a sense of urgency – cre­ate and seize opportunities
  • Would not wish to be seen as gullible or indecisive
  • Like to be surrounded by self-starters

Analytic–Autonomizing motivation (GREEN)
Basic sense of worth comes from the achievement of getting it right. (PRO­CESS)

  • Feel good by autonomy, order and getting things right
  • Fairness is put before feelings and principle before power
  • Personal integrity is likely to be the measure of success
  • They would rather be right than popular and are likely to be swayed by logic rather than emotive argument
  • Minimize risk by being thorough-rewarded analysis
  • Would want to avoid ever appearing to have lost control
  • Can give the appearance of being an observer of life because they tend to be calm, controlled and unemotional.

TIPS for keeping team relationships during disruption times

Remote Collaboration

Everyone’s different. So as you check in on teammates, be mindful of their different mo­tives and values. Here’s some quick insight to help you better engage your teams.


  • Be receptive, open, and genuine.
  • Thank them for their help or contributions.
  • Take the time to ask how they feel about things.


  • Be energetic, direct, and focused on results.
  • Keep a brisk pace.
  • Always look ahead to what might be coming up next.


  • Be calm, clear, complete, and correct.
  • Give them time for consideration.
  • Be comfortable with periods of silence.

Building Team Culture

Though we can’t meet face to face, we can still give our teams visibility into what mat­ters beneath the surface – our motives and how they change when there’s conflict. Cre­ate space for discussion to deepen under­standing and connection with your team.

Build a team portrait for visibility into your team relationships.

Remote One to One Meetings

Example questions and topics:

  • How have your motives helped you stay focused and engaged at work this week?
  • What has gone well and helped to feel productive?
  • Have you been in conflict during the past week?
  • How can we help prevent conflict in the future?
  • What support do we need from each other?

Remote Team Meetings

Example questions and topics:

  • Before we start today’s meeting let’s remind ourselves of who’s in the room (Motives).
  • Quick personal check-in regarding needs, concerns, well-being or other topics.
  • How well did we collaborate today?
  • Did everyone feel they were able to contribute?
  • What could we have done to get a greater contribution – before, during, after?
  • Did anyone feel others were going to conflict?

How can you lead the conversation, knowing your colleague’s motivations

  1. Talk about what matters most to the people you are concerned about. Are they worried about physical or financial safety? You may or may not be able to do anything about what you hear – but talking can help them to start feeling connected to people and move toward some productive action.
  2. Talk about how they see their current concerns or problems. Be a good listener here and withhold debate or your opinions. The idea is to let them express what they feel and what they are thinking about doing. Once you have discussed this for a while, you ask if they are ready to hear your opinions or start to talk about how their ideas might be received by others.
  3. At this point in the conversation, you can start to add your own opinions or reactions. We are assuming that steps one and two have started to de-escalate the feelings of conflict, where the person you are concerned about can focus on themselves, the problem, and you. This part of the conversation will probably feel more collaborative, while the prior parts will probably feel like just listening. Do not underestimate the power of listening to improve relationships and make people feel understood and accepted.

In a world of disruption, team relation­ships are not optional, they’re critical. With the stakes so high, we better get them right.

Dr. Michael Patterson

Suggested Reference: Scudder, T. (2019). SDI 2.0 Methodology and Meaning. Carlsbad, CA: Personal Strengths Publishing.