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6 tips on motivating others


Motivating your colleagues, friends, and loved ones is often a daunting prospect. When someone you care about or are responsible for needs a helping hand, it’s hard to know exactly what to do. These tried and tested techniques may be able to help you help others.

As we move towards an individual-driven economy in business and at home, it becomes increasingly important for each of us to be able to provide support for each other on an individual basis. It is not, however, an easy task to invent your own ways to motivate others. Instead, try some of these ideas to get started.

1. Focus on Success

Very often, the subject of your motivational pep-talk will have at least a goal in mind, even if they have no idea how to get there. Do your best to focus your attention on the task, and away from the barriers, at least at the outset. Have your counterpart explain exactly what it is they want to do, and brainstorm steps to get there together. If they raise objections, note them, but bring the task back into focus for the moment. Make sure you have the steps laid out first; until you actually begin taking the path to your goal, the obstacles don’t matter.


2. Break Down Barriers

Tackle hindrances one at a time. Treat them just as you did your discussion of the overall goal: Focus on each obstacle individually, then proceed to the next, one by one. Rebuild the overall map with whatever twists and turns you encounter on the way.

3. Read your Audience

First and foremost, everyone you work with, whether you are at home, work, or elsewhere, is unique. This may seem like common sense, but it’s important to remember that the only thing consistent between two different people that you might try to motivate is that each person finds motivation differently, and your approach will be most effective if tailored specifically to your audience. Approach a colleague with deference to their experience and encouragement of their success. Talk to a loved one with all the love in your heart. Remind a teammate that you stand in solidarity. When your counterpart knows you care not just about the task, but about them, they will open up.

4. Be Mindful of Triggers

As a corollary to the idea of keeping your audience in mind, watch for signs that your help may not be wanted, and respect them. If the effort you’re going to is not being well received, it may be time to try a different tactic, or back off and try again later. Remind your counterpart that you are in their corner and not giving up, but offer them time to recuperate. Similarly, respect your counterpart’s hard limitations – expectations that someone may overcome certain barriers are not always feasible, and unless their goal is specifically to transcend that barrier, your focus should be on the main goal.

5. Speak Honestly

In practice, there’s very little that can sap away motivation than the feeling of a deep betrayal from someone you trust. When you are speaking to someone in order to have them do something, it’s imperative that you approach them in a way that lets them trust you, and that you preserve the sanctity of that trust. Even people who lead by fear operate on the principles of reliable consequences, and oftentimes the hardest people to deal with are those that are unpredictable in leadership roles. Instead, set yourself up as a reliable jumping-off point, in order to engender the confidence needed to take a leap of faith.

6. Success is Personal, Failure is Not

As one final point in your mission, remember that while you have your own agenda (preferably, the success of your counterpart, of course), your attempts to be the motivating factor behind your counterpart’s success may not be successful. Remind yourself that this is an acceptable outcome before you approach, and they may need to find their motivation elsewhere. Provide alternate means, if you can, for them to realize their goals, and give them space as they request it. Should your counterpart not respond immediately, your assistance may not have been unwanted, just misdirected. Learn more about the situation at another time, and try again later.

Hopefully, these methods will help you bring out the best in others. Should you discover others, feel free to share.

Riva Arecol