Whether or not you consider yourself to be a leader, you still need to know how to motivate and inspire other people. We often find ourselves in situations, where we have to motivate others, be it talking a friend into joining a gym with us, convincing our future employer that we are the best person for the job or encouraging our co-workers to work on a project.
The real question many of us ask ourselves is how do you motivate people? How do you encourage them to be the best that they can possibly be?
It is not an easy question. And as in most cases there is no straight answer or secret NLP trick that will work for everyone. There are, however, a few things that I have found helpful when it comes to inspiring people and motivating them into taking action:
1. Be inspired
It may seem strange that the first and the most important step to motivate others is to motivate yourself. Just like fire, enthusiasm is catching. A candle that is not burning cannot light another candle. Similar, if you are not motivated or do not believe in the idea you are sharing with others, they will never be inspired by your words. If you want to inspire others, you have to be their inspiration.
2. Make it look like fun
Do you remember “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer” by Mark Twain”? The main hero, Tom, as a punishment has to whitewash a fence around his aunt’s house. His friends are making fun of him for having to work on a hot sunny day. “What do you call work?”, Tom asks one of the boys“ I don’t see why I oughtn’t to like it. Does a boy get a chance to whitewash a fence every day?” 5 minutes later the boys end up paying Tom for letting them whitewash the fence, while promising to do a great job.
It is all about perspective! If you think about it, there are a few really boring tasks that no motivational speaker on Earth can make sound more appealing. In 99% of cases there is not that much of a difference between hard work or a challenging, yet fun activity, and it is up to you to choose how to present it.
3. Trust people to do a good job
In psychology there is a concept called self-fulfilling prophesies. It has been demonstrated time and again that people’s behavior greatly depends on expectations we place on them.
It was enough to tell teachers in an elementary school that their students had a lower IQ than average and 6 months later the kids’ IQ noticeably went down. If you do not expect much from a person you are trying to motivate, YOU will be the one to sabotage their success and ability to do a good job. On the other hand, if you learn to see the true potential in every person, people will go to great lengths to live up to your expectations!
4. Push the right buttons
Find what excites people, what drives them, what they enjoy doing… then lead them towards those things! There is no need to bribe people into doing their best. All it takes is to help them discover their inner motivation and true potential.
5. Treat people as if they are already living their potential
I believe it was Goethe who said, “Treat a man as he appears to be, and you make him worse. But treat a man as if he already were what he potentially could be, and you make him what he should be.” My dad learned how to swim when his friend pushed him out of a boat. This may be drastic measures, but in many cases we need to be pushed out of our comfort zone in order to understand what we are truly capable of. Therefore, do not be afraid to give people tasks that are challenging, yet do-able. At the end they might surprise themselves.
6. Give recognition
When it comes to recognizing other’s efforts many people feel that praise and acknowledgements are unnecessary. We might feel that someone has to work for us after hours, because we pay them for it. Or that our friends should always be there for us, because this is what friends are for. But the truth is that we all like to be appreciated and valued.
Make it a habit not to take for granted anything people do for you. Acknowledge their achievements. Thank them for helping you out. Offer support in minutes of doubt. And they will go to great lengths for you!
7. Choose collaboration over competition
Competition might be a great way to motivate people in the short run, but in the long-run making people compete against each other ruins the spirit of team work and creates tension. People tend to do a much better job and enjoy themselves a lot more when they are focused on contributing towards one bigger goal rather than just beating their competition.
8. Be careful with bribery
It may seem that the easiest way to make your children behave is to bribe them with a new toy. Similar, many managers believe that employees work harder when they mention bonuses and possible promotion. Numerous studies confirm that bribery is the fastest way to destroy intrinsic motivation that a person might initially have had. Take time to learn what really drives people, not what bribes them!
9. Give a reason
As unbelievable as it may sound 36% of people will not be motivated into doing anything, unless you give them a good reason to do it. They are not necessarily slackers or unmotivated individuals. They just do a better job if they know they are working for a cause, rather than just following orders. Before going on with motivating another person, think about “What is in it for them?”
- Why should they follow your advice?
- What will they get in return for their efforts?
- How will they benefit from doing what you feel they should do?
If you cannot come up with a good enough reason, be careful! Because there is a fine line between motivating and manipulating and you do not want to cross it.