Contrary to popular myth, you don t have to
Let s not forget Melissa from the Introduction, the best of the best in the land of flailing fists. She was far too small to intimidate
Motivation, it turns out, is actually rather boring. It has little to do with clout, chutzpah, or even charisma. In fact, motivation is about expectations, information, and communication.
Let s start our more accurate, if less flamboyant, description of motivation with a simple truism: People are always motivated. To say that someone isn t motivated is patently wrong. As long as people are moving their
Here s how the human brain and the
Here s what motivation comes down to: Change others view of the consequence bundle and their behavior will follow.
How do you go about motivating others to change their behavior? How do you get people to understand that their existing view of the consequences is either inaccurate or incomplete? What does it take to change expectations or anticipated consequences?
One thing is for certain: Three of the more popular methods ”charisma, power, and perks ”don t work very well. They all have the potential to change people s view, and so they all have the potential to change people s behavior. Unfortunately, relying on these heavy-handed methods can be dangerous and rarely sustains behavior over the long run. Yet these
It s time to kill a myth. To be an effective motivator, you don t have to be awe-
Books, television programs, and movies positively ooze with scenes that are designed to make audiences gasp with admiration. For example, in the cold war drama
we find a naval officer
The poor fellow has to get the
In the real world the poor fellow probably would collapse from the pressure. In fact, the stress would be so debilitating that a smart leader would be doing everything in his or her power to provide support. But
Denzel delivers a really hot speech. After the tear-jerking performance the radioman turns to his coworker and
Denzel gives the speech, the radioman is appropriately inspired, and yes, the audience breaks into applause. Charisma makes for good drama; however, it has precious little to do with leadership. Rest assured that you don t have to be charismatic to be influential.
Let s move on to the
This simple idea would never have made these pages if not for the fact that parents and
If you don t finish the project on time, you re
If you talk back to me like that again, you re grounded until the end of the summer!
Earlier we suggested that we often take a dispositional rather than a situational view of others. If others cause us a great deal of pain, we believe they must be bad to the
When it comes to influence strategies, the
And now for a leap in logic that would break any Evil Knievel record: Since we re dealing with deep-seated personality flaws, we have to use threats. Remember those teenagers who took your parking space? Oh yeah, they ll pay. Remember that plywood employee who was sent to the hospital? He deserved it. It wasn t the supervisor s fault that the guy wouldn t respond to logic.
What does all this chest
Of course, it s
with them when they aren t motivated. We try and try, and nothing works. And then we become
Warning lights should go off every time we feel compelled to reach into our bag of influence tools and pull out a
hammer: If we don t catch ourselves before it s too late, we ll pay.
Every time we decide to use our power to influence others, particularly if we re gleeful and hasty, we damage the relationship. We move from enjoying a
Every time we compel people to bend to our will it creates a desolate and
It s a horrible thing we do when we decide to routinely
When we quickly move to use force to influence change, people intuitively understand that we do that because we believe they have bad motives. We don t respect them. In addition, it communicates that we care only about
goals, not theirs. In other words, it destroys safety. And when safety disappears, people immediately become defensive. Eventually they resist our ideas out of principle. Every time we leave the room, we
employeesat the plywood mill didn t simply stand by and watch the ambulance haul their friend to the hospital. They got even. Every time they became upset at a supervisor, they took a perfectlygood veneer and threwit into the hog ”a massive grinding machine that transformed expensive wood into cheap sawdust. Productivity took a hit, and supervisors were blamed. How come our numbers are so low? And if the battles continuedto rage, numbersdropped even further, the hog got really fat, and the supervisors were dismissed.
Of course, most families and organizations don t have massive hogs lurking in the wings, but people find other ways to strike back. They do what you ask even if it s wrong. They stop giving their best effort. They
Perhaps the largest avoidable cost in every organization is the loss of energy that comes every time someone
abuseshis or her power.
Back in the mid-1930s, Kurt Lewin, along with several of his colleagues,
Now for the last of the common motivational errors: the hasty use of extrinsic rewards to motivate what should already be intrinsically motivating. Parents long ago learned not to make this mistake through their failed attempts to reward actions that should be
For example, if you want your children to read or, better still,
to read, what s the best way to lure them away from TV programs and video games? More than a few parents have
Similarly, if you continually use special perks to
 Kurt Lewin, Ron Lippett, and Robert White, Patterns of Aggressive Behaviour in Experimentally Created ˜Social Climates, Journal of Social Psychology 10 (1939), 271 “299.