To continue my series relating to my vocational assessment, I’m going to discuss the fourth test I took: The Fundamental Interpersonal Relations Orientation (FIRO-B. Not sure why it’s B. Perhaps FIRO-A wasn’t good enough?)

FIRO-B measures three areas related to personal needs and interpersonal functioning: Inclusion, Control, and Affection. Essentially, these scores help explain how my personal needs influence interpersonal relationships and the extent to which I express or solicit behaviors in the three listed areas.  This can lend insight to the type of work environments that best suit me.


Expressed versus Wanted Inclusion

The Inclusion score specifically measures my need to either be a part of the group or excluded from it. My scores suggest I have a moderate preference to be included in activities, I enjoy the opportunity to provide input, I don’t like to get cut off from information and updates, and I seek recognition and endorsement from colleagues and superiors. It also seems to indicate I have a desire to provide similar opportunities for recognition and belonging and for others to initiate these opportunities as well. The Total Inclusion score suggests this is very important to me and I need to figure out how to satisfy this need within the work environment.

This results of this section make sense to me. I do enjoy getting recognition for the work I’ve done and that’s one thing I’ve discussed with my advisor. I’m not looking for an attaboy every time I do something, but it is motivating to have positive feedback and reinforcement from superiors. My extroverted nature likes to be a part of group activities and I do enjoy initiating them at times. But sometimes I do prefer others to take charge and decide what’s happening. It just depends on the situation. To me, this says I need to be in a positive reinforcement environment where I get along with most everybody.


Expressed versus Wanted Control

The control score measures the level of direct or indirect control I wish to have over people or projects and the level I wish others to have over me. My scores indicate I’m in the middle. Depending on the situation I will tend to want more control whereas in others I will cede the power to another. My desired level of control also indicates I prefer to be given some guidance, don’t want to be closely supervised, can be stubborn and rebellious particularly under stress, think of myself as self-sufficient, move at my own speed, am hesitant to ask for help, and like to work on projects that aren’t politicized.

Overall, this seems to make sense with my past behavior. Depending on the situation, particularly with my grad school work, I don’t like to be thrown completely out on my own. A little push and guidance goes a long way for me. But when things start getting too strict or controlled, I’ll start to push back and resist. I’d like to think I’m relatively laid back, but know when I need to step up my game.


Expressed versus Wanted Affection

Similar to the control, I have a moderate level of desire for affection in the work place. Affection, in this case, is a measure of how much I desire to express closeness, warmth, and sensitivity to my colleagues as well as my desire for expression to be returned. This indicates that, depending on the context and person, I am generally friendly, value trustworthiness, use praise to motivate others and are likely motivated the same way, and I can become sad when group projects or regular contact with colleagues ends. My total score suggests I will selectively express or elicit behaviors that fulfill my need for affection.

I’ve come to realize I highly value interpersonal relationships with my coworkers as well as praise as a form of motivation. A very simple and honest “Good Job” from my advisor can sustain my motivation for quite some time. It’s an unspoken rule that graduate students should be self-motivated and not rely on anybody else. And for the most part, I am. But we have advisors for a reason and it is nice to hear positive reinforcement every once in a while. I also try to get along with everybody in the lab and like to be an all around fun, friendly dude.


Total Expressed and Wanted Behavior

The Total Expressed score indicates how much I initiate behaviors toward others in order to get what I need. It’s basically a measure of proactivity. My score was in the medium range (I’m noticing a pattern here…) suggesting  the level to which I initiate behaviors depends on the person and the context of my work. The Total Wanted score is the reverse of this: it’s a measure of how comfortable I am being reactive to and reliant on others. My moderate score also indicates a context dependent behavior. Because my scores are about equal, I tend to be cautious about expressing a behavior before I am sure how the person will act.

I find this a very interesting result, but at the same time it makes sense. I tend to be an intuitive person and am fairly good at deducing how people will react to certain behaviors or situations. I like to cuss and can be vulgar sometimes, but I’m hesitant to show that side of myself if I think the person will balk at it. On the flip side, I can be quite empathetic and emotive but generally only when I know it will be well received. This goes back to my tendencies to try and please other people. Instead of just being myself and saying whatever the fuck I want (see what I did there?) I try to bring out the side of myself that I believe will be best received. This might seem like a good idea to some (think job interview) but I’ve been trying to be the most honest version of myself to all people.


Overal Needs Score

All of these scores are combined into an overall score. My score suggests that my involvement with others in the workplace is usually a source of satisfaction, but these relationships can become frustrating and interfere with my work. When interacting with others I tend to work best with small groups and regular contacts. I prefer opportunities to gather input from others without having to rely on these individuals for decision making or implementation. I also prefer to work with others but may occasionally need time to think and reflect.

This is a good summation of the FIRO-B report. I like people, but they can frustrate me and I don’t want to necessarily rely on others to move things forward. Collaboration can be a source of fulfillment but also dread depending on the person I’m working with. I definitely believe that in the future it will be important for me to consider the type of work I’ll be doing and the level of contact I’ll have with other people.



I imagine each of the three categories, Inclusion, Affection, and Control, as a horizontal scale and my dial is aligned right in the middle. To me, this indicates I’m the kind of person that meshes well with pretty much any group. Depending on the situation I can adjust my interpersonal skills to fit the group. This may be a good or bad thing depending on how you look at it.

It’s good because most people will end up liking me no matter what group I’m with. This is something I’m quite used to and can remember all the way back to grade school where I was friends with the ‘cool’ kids as well as the ‘nerdy’ kids. A different Taylor for different situations.

It’s bad because I haven’t fully staked my claim to who I really am. I can be a lot of people, but it’s hard to pinpoint sometimes who exactly Taylor is. I tend to wear different hats. There’s a part of me that wants to be authentically myself in every situation. But that’s very unlikely to happen. Who I am around my uber-religious grandparents is not who I am when out drinking with friends on a Saturday.

It’s a fact of life that we tend to focus on one aspect of who we are depending on the situation. My goal is to adjust my circumstances so that, for the majority of the time, I’m being my whole self, without any reservations. It’s a tall order, but fully accepting and embracing who I am as a person will only help me live a fulfilled and happy life.

In the next post, I’ll discuss the final test, which I believe to be the most interesting. Stay tuned!

Please share in the comments where you think you fall on this scale. Do you prefer to have more influence at work or none at all? How important is affection between your coworkers? Is control a big part of your work or do you prefer to defer?