How Well Do You Motivate Other People?

by Ron Haynes


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.

What tips or strategies do you use to motivate other people?

About the author

Ron Haynes has written 1001 articles on The Wisdom Journal.


The founder and editor of The Wisdom Journal in 2007, Ron has worked in banking, distribution, retail, and upper management for companies ranging in size from small startups to multi-billion dollar corporations. He graduated Suma Cum Laude from a top MBA program and currently is a Human Resources and Management consultant, helping companies know how employees will behave in varying situations and what motivates them to action, assisting firms in identifying top talent, and coaching managers and employees on how to better communicate and make the workplace MUCH more enjoyable. If you'd like help in these areas, contact Ron using the contact form at the top of this page or at 870-761-7881.


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{ 4 comments }

Melissa@Frugalandthriving

Knowing the why is the most important motivator for me. If I can’t make something relevant, then I find it hard to get motivated. I teach adult computer studies for a community organisation as a volunteer and I find that making things relevant and exploring “the why” is one of the best motivators. Often I see a little light go on and someone says “I can use the computer to do this at home…” The following week the students bring in what they have done off their own bat.

I agree with you also about relinquishing control. Sometimes it’s hard to let go of control, or to try not to do something for someone or tell them exactly what to do. Stepping back and giving breathing room for others to do as you said – “amaze you with their creativity” is win-win for everyone.
Great post! Thanks.

Cody Dream-Life-Coaching

Good points, after working in management for a number of years I realized that everybody is motivated by something different. The mark of a great manager is to figure out what that is. Some want money, some want appreciation, some are bored from home life and just want to stay busy the list goes on. You are right everybody is different, and that’s a good thing.

Positively Present

To motivate others, I try to do my best to be positive and emphasize their strengths (without ignoring their weaknesses). I think it’s important to focus on the good and I try to encourage people to do what is best for, and what works best for, them.

Tammy Brackett

I was an assistant teacher in the NC public schools. We used positive reinforcement to get a point across. If a child’s work wasn’t quite correct, instead of pointing out the obvious errors, we found what was GOOD about the work. Maybe the handwriting was neat, maybe the spelling was correct…..anything GOOD should be pointed out first. Then I’d say ,” If you REALLY wanting this to be great, you might think about….”
Positive reinforcement is a tool I utilize even now as I navigate the world of public relations and publicity. There is ALWAYS something good to point out in a piece of work, or a problem or a conversation. Making statements like, “To get this closer to perfect, you may want to….”
seems a gentler way to move things along these days….

GREAT post…wonderful point! WELL PUT!

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