Not only do people want to be autonomous, they also have a strong need to be related to other people. In other words, people want to have and build meaningful and caring relationships with other people and want to do things that make a positive difference to others. From an evolutionary perspective it can be explained that we not only have certain competitive and egocentric tendencies but also social, altruistic, cooperative tendencies which are at least as important, such as a striving for fairness and a striving for reciprocity and also a striving to belong to one or more groups. Research into self determination theory (Visser, 2010) has shown that the need for relatedness is an important a universal need of people. Satisfaction of this need for relatedness has been shown to be also crucial for internalization of external demands. Through relatedness we become socialized and find meaning in life.
As coaches, managers and teachers we can either support or undermine the perception of relatedness of our clients, employees or students. Some factors primarily enhancing a sense of relatedness are: 1) inquiring about individuals’ views and concerns, 2) acknowledging individuals’ perspectives, 3) emphasizing individuals’ uniqueness and 4) creating cooperative working, learning and change approaches. Factors which are generally thought to undermine satisfaction of the need for relatedness are: 1) emphasizing competition, 2) being non-responsive to or dismissing individual concerns and views and 3) treating individuals as interchangeable.
Solution-focused relatedness support
The solution-focused approach offers some perspectives and techniques to support the satisfaction of the need for relatedness. Here are some examples: 1) client views and perspectives are inquired about and acknowledged, 2) normalizing: clients' concerns and problems are depathologized, 3) reframing: alternative positive interpretations of apparently negative statements or behaviors by clients are offered, 4) relationship questions: clients are invited to define solutions in interactional terms.
Also read: Assumptions In Solution-Focused Change