Decoding Difficult Stakeholder Speak with the 6 Human Needs Framework

Present Beyond Measure Ep. 036

Listen to the 6 Human Needs Episode

Stakeholders and presentation audiences say the darndest things, don’t they?

You’ve poured your blood and sweat into presenting your invaluable analytical insights and ideas. But come presentation day, they make comments and ask questions that bring you nothing but tears.

Constant interruptions, asking the same questions, do they do this on purpose??

What if I told you there was a GOOD REASON why they say these things? And that the reason wasn’t to undermine your authority or make you look the fool in front of your colleagues?

If you want to probe deeper into the frustrating table talk at your presentations, this is the episode for you. We’re going to take a little detour from data viz to explore an unexpected side of data presentation: effective communication and corporate psychology.

And in this episode, I apply Tony Robbins’s “Six Human Needs” framework to presenting, putting a whole new spin on communication and meeting the needs of your audiences and stakeholders.

No special guest this time; this one’s just between you and me.

In This Episode, You’ll Learn…

  • How I cracked the code to expose you to a whole different way of communicating insights to your audiences and stakeholders.
  • All about my invaluable toolset for how to decode what is actually going on with your audience.
  • How Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs can help you make an even bigger impact.
  • An excellent tool for looking at others through “Needs” goggles.
  • How to apply Tony Robbins’ Six Human Needs Framework to your presentations and all other areas of your life.
  • Specific tools and tricks to help you apply the Six Human Needs Framework to your specific audience.

Resources & Links Mentioned

Lea’s Upgrade:

Listen to Dr. Marshall Rosenberg’s 3-hour training on Nonviolent Communication or NVC. It is a groundbreaking and game-changing method of communication that is based on compassion, empathy, and meeting the needs of others in any situation.

It will fundamentally improve how you relate to people in your professional and personal life.

Your homework: What are the most infuriating, inflammatory, headshaking things your clients are saying during your meetings? And how could you see them differently, using the “Needs” goggles I just talked to you about?

How to Keep Up with Lea:

Thanks for Listening!

Thanks so much for joining me. Have some feedback you’d like to share, or a question for me? Leave a note in the comments below, and I’ll get back to you!

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And finally, don’t forget to subscribe to the show on iTunes to get automatic updates and never miss a show.

A very, very special thanks to you for listening this week. And as always, viz responsibly, my friends.

What’s your burning question for me about applying the Six Human Needs Framework to your business and life?


Lea Pica: [00:00:00] What’s up guys. Lea Pica here today; I’m taking you back to
school on a little-discussed topic in the corporate world to help you get to the head of
the class. Stay tuned to find out what today’s topic is on the Present Measure Show
Episode 36.

Lea Pica: [00:00:42] Hey guys welcome to the 36 episode of the present beyond
measure show The only podcast at the intersection of presentation data visualization
and analytics. This is the place to be if you’re ready to make maximum impact and
create credibility through thoughtfully presented insights. I am kicking off this fall with
some very exciting new developments for you. Once I get a few private workshops out
of the way this month I’m going to be working on launching a brand new virtual live web
class that is going to translate all of my private workshop material to a virtual
environment and a community that any analyst marketer consultant all over the world
will be able to take. It will not be reserved just for people working for corporate agencies
and companies anymore. So if you’re interested in finding more out about that definitely
drop me a note at

Lea Pica: [00:02:27] So this episode has been probably a year in the making because I’ve just
been trying to figure out how to crack the code and expose this audience to a different
side of communicating insights to our stakeholders. We talked a lot and talked to a lot of
experts about visual display of information and planning and productivity and things like
that. But what we haven’t really broached is what’s going on in the minds of people

Lea Pica: [00:04:00] We kind of started to get into this a little bit in a past show with
Evan LaPointe, that was an amazing episode and I was so inspired by that that I
thought that I really want to bring a totally new concept that it’s very likely you might not
have heard of yet. So I’m really excited to bring this to you today. It’s all about why our
audiences and stakeholders can get our goats during presentations. So at every
workshop and speaking session, I’m inevitably asked why our clients, bosses, VPs, C-
levels. Why do they say the darndest things during presentations? Why are they trying to
throw us off our game? Why are they trying to make us feel uncomfortable asking that a
possible question repeatedly interrupting you undermining your authority on the
subject? It could make presenting data feel pretty darn unfulfilling. And I know this so
well myself having 12 years of experience in that field and I not only can sympathize
because I’m aware that the general consensus that public speaking is the number one
public enemy. People don’t love it and it’s probably in no small part to the unexpected
and unanticipated questions and comments we receive while we’re up there trying to be
authoritative and get out of there alive. But the bigger problem is not understanding
what’s at the root of those difficult questions comments. And I want to give you an
invaluable toolset today for decoding what is really going on behind them.

Lea Pica: [00:05:46] That toolset is called the six human needs framework. So you’re
probably very familiar with a little-known personality named Tony Robbins exemplary life
coach and all around international superstar. And he has publicized a toolset and a
framework called the six human needs framework. My understanding is that this human
needs framework is based on Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy. It’s a pyramid of needs that
every human needs and the bottom of the pyramid goes from the most basic needs for
survival that we have. And they travel up the pyramid to go through the long
psychological needs and then self-fulfillment need. So the idea behind that pyramid is
as your foundational needs on the bottom are filled you’re able to ascend and rise up to
need other things that get closer to something called self-actualization which is
achieving one’s full potential. Now Tony kind of simplified things and made them really
concrete and easy to understand. And in an entrepreneur article he wrote detailing
these needs. This is how he summed it up. There are six basic universal needs that
make us tick and drive all human behavior. Combined they are the force behind the
crazy things other people do not us. And the great things that we do! We all have the
same six needs but how we value those needs and in what order determines the
direction of our life. Now I first learned about this framework from my relationship coach.

Lea Pica: [00:07:37] Her name is Stacey Martino of And
this was groundbreaking information for me because I was in a mindset that all of my
problems in relating to others were entirely external that something must be wrong with
everyone else except for me. But what this needs framework actually told me was that
the needs that I had inside I was trying to fill in a certain way and that clashed with the
way that other people were trying to meet their needs and because we’re all walking
around unaware of this way of living. We are just colliding with each other. So one of the
tools that I thought was really valuable that she gave me was to think about putting on a
pair of needs goggles put on a pair of goggles on your eyes right now. Close your eyes
unless you’re driving close your eyes and imagine you’re wearing these goggles. And
when you open your eyes you’re going to look at the people around you and you’re
going to stop seeing them as walking talking and question and insult machines and
you’re going to start seeing them as live human beings who are carrying around buckets
of needs on their arms that they’re trying to fill. And these buckets of needs. They have
holes in the bottom of them and they’re constantly emptying. So they’re always walking
around to other people to have those buckets filled those buckets of unmet needs.

Lea Pica: [00:09:09] Translate directly over to what your audience and stakeholders are
saying to you during presentations and learning how to interpret them is going to give
you a huge edge in your work and it may also save your sanity. I know it saved mine so
I decided to have a little bit of fun on social media and ask my audiences what are some
of the most head-scratching questions that you’re getting from your audience is the ones
that really want to make you take your laptop and throw it out the window. And some
people left me some good ones some are really specific but some were actually pretty
universal. So I’ve decided to take those comments and overlay this six human needs
goggles on them to see the need that is driving what they’re saying and how you can
respond to them in a way that meets their needs and defuses any kind of conflict that
might arise or discomfort. So we’re going to start with the very first need most people
lead with this need. And it’s called certainty. Certainty is knowing what’s going to happen
is a survival mechanism. It is about control it affects how much risk we’re willing to take
in our lives. So when we talk about our individual risk tolerance that is directly
proportional to how high of a need for certainty that each of us have. So some of the
comments that you might get that are driven by certainty you might hear things like am I
definitely going to see this metric like visits and conversion rate or bounce rate.

Lea Pica: [00:10:56] I really want to see time on page or I really need to make sure that
I see that report and by this date and I want to see the slides in advance or how does
this number compare to the industry standard of our biggest competitors. These are all
about alleviating fears that we’re not in control of what’s happening with our campaigns
with our landing pages with our lives. All of it comes down to control and certainty and
what it really comes down to for you is building trust. I have found that many times
stakeholders don’t trust that all of their needs are going to get met with our data
presentations and that is going to Peru at the base their need for certainty. So they ask
for certainty in various ways. Some are direct and clear some are not so direct and can
be very frustrating. So what can you do if you get these kinds of questions. First stop
and recognize that this is most human beings most important need. Say that to yourself
over and over. So this is all about reassurance. Give them reassurance that they’re
going to get what they’re looking for. That is essential. Reassure them that if you don’t
have an answer for them during the meeting that they’re going to find out right
afterwards and you’re going to get back to them make sure that they know that you’re
going to have a conversation with them to hear them out about what kinds of concerns
they have all about reassurance and that’s all about building trust.

Lea Pica: [00:12:34] You want to let them know they can be certain that their needs are
going to get met and then all of their other needs are going to be able to be met a lot
easier. The next need is the counterbalance to that to certainty which is uncertainty and
variety. So you know if our favorite fruit is apples and we ate apples three times a day
and that’s all we ate pretty soon. Oranges are going to start getting our mouthwatering
even though we thought apples was our favorite and we might even not want apples
any more uncertainty or variety is the spice of life and that definitely translates to how
people look at and what they want to get from our presentations. Surprise me. I want
adventure. I want something new so no questions you might get are like stop showing
us the same metrics. Show me everything you have. Every metric you have in this
system can you make this prettier or flash. This looks kind of boring. God I’m so sick of
bar charts. All of those kinds of comments are all about and need for variety and

Lea Pica: [00:13:52] They want to know what’s going to happen but they also kind of
don’t want to know what’s going to happen. It’s really a balance you have to strike. So
what can you do to help meet your stakeholders need for uncertainty. Well get more
creative about what you’re going to present to them and the way to do that is to start
talking to them ask them more questions ask them what’s hot on your plate right now.
What’s keeping you up at night. What is going to make you successful this quarter. And
if you can stop rehashing the same exact insights and metrics at every meeting I would
love to see more data presentations have less than 50 of the same metrics and maybe
five with three changing every time you keep your North Star metrics in there and then
change it up. Keep the high level pulse check stuff you know what people really need to
know but then change up the major story points every time and it’s unlikely they’re going
to get bored in your boardroom. One of the best ways to do that is to adopt a
presentation planning framework that I teach in my workshops. So if you’re interested in
learning more I again really highly recommend heading over to Leah peek dot com
slash workshops and getting you and your team equipped with the right tools sets and
mindsets for keeping them interested.

Lea Pica: [00:15:15] Now the next need is probably the one that I see creating the most
head scratching behaviors in meetings and presentations. That need is for significance.
This is the need to have meaning importance. We all want to feel important and special
and unique and needed by others. We want to be seen by others and we want to be
worthy of their attention. And every day we as human beings need to feel significant to
the people around us and we will figure out ways on how to get it. Now unfortunately
this is the one that tends to rear its ugly unrecognized head the most during meetings.
They look like incorrigible questions and comments. It looks like constant interruptions
rambling and taking things way off track. It looks like answering questions with more
questions. You know this is the client or boss who is constantly calling you or checking
up on what you’re doing or always questioning you. During these meetings that is
actually probably an intensive blend of significance and certainty at play and those two
are the two needs buckets that most humans lead with every single day. You know I
once witnessed a CEO outwardly dubbing himself the highest paid person in the room
and that he would gladly veto Anyone that disagreed with him simply because he was
the hippo.

Lea Pica: [00:17:00] So a lot of those things are kind of not the most attractive ways of
filling those needs for people. So we have to think of ourselves how can we actually
meet those needs so they don’t have to resort to those kinds of tactics. So a couple of
the questions that I got back on social media. One of them was you know can you tell
us how are linked and followers performed on our site in the last year. And you know
they had a total of five linked posts out of which the last one was 14 months ago. But we
still really want to know how many followers do we have. Or it’s really important to see
how many visits we got to the microsite definitely visits that hunger for understanding
how shortened the people themselves are how important the website is. These are
ways of feeding that significance bucket and it’s really important to recognize it for what
it is. Don’t judge. We all have that need and figure out how you can meet that need for
them. So what can you do in these situations. I’m going to give you a formula for
success that works really well to defuse people’s constant need for significance.

Lea Pica: [00:18:21] Stop yourself from responding and listen. so hard I know but stop
and listen. Listen until they’re finished talking so often all we have to do to meet
someone’s need for significance is to just listen to them and let them finish talking.

Lea Pica: [00:18:49] We are so well-trained to jump in and interrupt each other as soon
as we know someone is wrong. We know that they’re wrong. So we’re going to interrupt
them ourselves. But listening is the key. No matter how off the rails they are stopping
and listening is the key. Then I’m going to give you the next key and this is even harder I
struggle with this every single day. You’re going to acknowledge what it is they’re saying
you’re going to do something that’s called mirroring. So I’m hearing you say that you’re
questioning the numbers behind the last chart that we had because you saw something
that’s making you think differently. Do I have that right? Yes. That’s called mirroring. You
didn’t overlay your own interpretation of it. You didn’t overlay what you thought about it
and you didn’t overlay the solution to whatever it is they were saying you just mirrored
back exactly what they said. So once they say yes you have that right. Probe even
further ask can you tell me more about that. No. I know why. Why would I ask someone
who is already taking so much air space to actually keep going. The reason is because
you may get to the real meat of what they’re saying and defuse a potential
uncomfortable moment or argument during the meeting because they’re allowing to peel
that onion back and I’ve seen conflict arise when we jump in to try to fix whatever the
first thing is that they’ve said. I’ve witnessed it all too many times. All we have to do
again. This is your formula. You stop. You listen. You acknowledge them and then
probe a little further.

Lea Pica: [00:20:46] It is a recipe for success in meeting someone’s need for
significance when they are beginning to take up space in a meeting. And that formula
will help you in all areas of communication in your life. All right now we’re coming to the
fourth need which is the need for love and connection. Now this one makes us think of
romantic love and connection and that may not apply to this corporate context however.
Connection is something that human beings need to survive. It is the oxygen of life. As
Tony Robbins puts it and it happens to be a critical piece of our job satisfaction. I mean
think about it. You’re probably happiest when your job rolls when you have a small
community and you have people you can rely on and you have friends at work that all
bubbles up into love and connection. And we all need it. And believe it or not you can
create connection with your stakeholders and clients. If you want to reframe your
mindset around it you could choose to think of them as friends as compatriots as allies.
So what can you do here. Try to relate to them find common ground with them you
know. Do they love the same football team. Do they love playing tennis. Do they love
watching stranger things. Do you have the same age kids. What’s the common ground
between you. Because relationships are all about relating. So do not be afraid to do it.
You might find that you’re strengthening a bond and smoothing out some wrinkles with
them along the way and that’s going to make your relationship with them a lot more

Lea Pica: [00:22:45] Now these first four needs are what Tony calls the needs of the
personality, basic humanness needs them. The next two needs are what he says are
needs of the spirit, they reach towards the top of that Maslow period. I mentioned earlier
and they move us towards self actualization a sense of purpose and meaning to our
lives. So the people that lead with the next two needs are meeting the other four needs
so well that they’re able to reach from more beyond just basic survival day to day. The
first need in the spirit realm is for growth. This is the need for constant emotional
intellectual and spiritual growth and awareness. So who are these people these are the
stakeholders who are actually invested in understanding your work. They’re picking up
the books you’re reading they’re bringing interest in and relevant and provocative
questions to their meetings. They’re the ones sending you articles that seem like you’d
be interested in them. You want to love these people. Make them your allies because
your collaboration with them will make them savvier as stakeholders and that will
actually help them meet their incessant need for growth. So the next time you get
annoyed that a stakeholders peppering you with questions but they’re actually relevant
and they show a genuine interest in understanding first recognize that they just might be
trying to meet their own need for growth and that could actually really benefit you. If you
let it now the sixth and final need. And this is one I really hope everyone listening takes
away and thinks about this one long and hard.

Lea Pica: [00:24:41] This one is contribution. Contribution is all about service to others.
It is our highest purpose and selves on this earth. Acting as a member of the global
community and giving something back in gratitude for the abundance that we have in
our lives it’s the idea that we have so much in our lives that we allow it to spill over to
the others who really need it. So what do these people look like. People really focused
on contribution have behaviors like philanthropy. They’re always pitching in to help.
They’re volunteering to take on tough follow ups any way that they can help you they
do. Please make these folks your allies as well because they will help you get stuff
done. They will help you move mountains. They will be your advocates for big projects
and they tend to be a joy to be around because they’re the ones who are walking
around with a sense of innate contentment and maybe even radiance. And that’s
possibly because according to


Data Storytelling Evangelist for Digital Marketing + #Measure Analytics. Speaker, Consultant, Trainer, & #Podcast host @

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