Too many times we try to make all our encounters with others into a “one size fits all” situation. We try to motivate our youngest child to study using the same logic (and threats?) that work on our oldest child. We try to persuade our spouse the same way we try to persuade a co-worker or subordinate. We try to reason with someone from a different culture the way we would like them to reason with us. But it rarely works because everyone is different. Then we walk around wondering why no one seems to listen to us!
Everyone approaches life from a unique perspective.
One of the best ways to make a positive difference in our relationships on the job, in our community, and at home is to have a clear understanding of how people are persuaded and motivated. But remember: everyone is different.
Everyone is motivated intrinsically (by nature) and extrinsically (by rewards). It’s up to you and me to understand the degree each person responds to our appeals to their nature and appeals to their desire for rewards. My oldest daughter is naturally a very tidy and clean person. When her room looks a little messy, I just tell her, “Honey, clean your room. This messy room isn’t like you.” and she cleans it up pretty easily. My other two children aren’t motivated that way. Their rooms get cleaned more easily when there’s dessert in the calculation or the possibility that they won’t get to go to the Taylor Swift concert.
People are more motivated to if they know the WHY. Explaining why someone needs to budget their finances, or use self discipline, or learn a new language is much more effective than “because I said so.” Connect the action with real benefits and watch someone perform!
In my experience, some people are more motivated when they have some amount of control over their situation. Explaining what needs to be done and then allowing them to amaze you with their creativity in getting it accomplished is the mark of a mature (and internally secure) person. After all, accomplishing the desired results in a legal, ethical and moral manner is the goal, right?
Feedback: the breakfast of champions
When you ask for input, people feel valued and they feel that they actually make a difference. When you seek feedback, they feel validated, and are more willing to stay focused on a goal when they know that they contribute to its success. Of course, remember that every contribution should be accompanied by ample praise.
When it comes to motivating others, one size does NOT fit all. Sometimes we have to customize the package because we’re all motivated a little differently.