The Key to Improving Relationships: Motive.

Would you like to have a better relationship with your boss? Do you desire to feel a deeper connection with your significant other? Have you ever wondered why someone reacts a certain way to particular situation?

In Dr. Taylor Hartman’s book, The People Code, he gives the key to understanding others and improving relationships. The key, he says, is your innate, core motive. If you can identify your own core motive and the motive of those around you, you can improve every relationship in your life, from work to family.

His four core motives are identified by a color code.

Reds are motivated by Power
Blues are motivated by Intimacy
Whites are motivated by Peace
Yellows are motivated by Fun

Everyone is born with one of these innate colors that motivates everything they do. Although we can have experiences that impact our personality, Dr. Hartman says that each person’s core motive remains constant throughout life.

So what does each color look like in practice?


While it’s true that Reds like to be in control of their circumstances and are attracted to leadership opportunities, that’s not what Hartman says Power really means to Reds. To Reds, Power generally means that they desire the ability to move from point A to point B — and they want to do it in the most direct and efficient way possible. Reds are swift, productive, and are always looking at the bottom line and the end result.


Being motivated my Intimacy means that Blues like to connect with others on a deep and meaningful level. Intimacy for a Blue is about loyalty and sincerity. Most Blues come to the conclusion that there is a real difference between friends and acquaintances, and they’ll process this on a very serious level. At the end of their contemplation, most Blues will tell you that they can count the number of their friends on one hand, because those are the people with whom they feel that real, intimate connection.


To a White, Peace is all about inner harmony and balance. Whites will try to change the subject if you attempt to talk about something that makes them feel insecure. This personality type is the most centered and consistent; they don’t get overly excited about things, and they don’t get really depressed about things either.


Fun to a Yellow means living in the moment. Yellows enjoy the process of what they are doing far more than the end result. That’s why Yellows are generally so engaged and present when you are with them. They are focused on the here and now and nothing else.

In a work setting, Yellows will focus on the camaraderie, the experiences they have, the social interaction their work provides, etc. This personality type tends to think very optimistically, and if they can be positive and enjoy their work, they will find it easier to commit and excel in whatever it is that they are doing.

Once you understand your own core motive, it is important to identify the motive of those around you. If you can understand the core motive of your boss, your spouse, or your children, you will be able to communicate with them much more effectively. For example, I am a blue and my boss is a red. Before reading The People Code, when she would ask me about a project I would respond with a story, telling her what I had done from beginning to end. I didn’t understand why this was frustrating to her. After identifying her core motive, I have learned to start by telling her the bottom line. Once she has been assured of success, she can then sit through (what she sees as) my irrelevant details.

While no color combination in a relationship is impossible, some of them are more difficult to navigate than others. In each chapter of his book, Dr. Hartman lists the positives and negatives of each color combination and explains how to improve a relationship between each of the colors.

Life is all about relationships. Whether they be romantic, work, or familial relationships, we live each day enmeshed in networks. If we seek to understand our own motive, then the motive of others, we will be able to maximize the potential of each of our relationships. We only need to start with a desire to understand, and core motive will take it from there.