It is very appropriate that we end our discussion of Super Persuasion with the subject of motivation. Motivation is the culmination and end result of all the other skills we have studied.
The most sought-after job skill today, and the job skill that can make the most money for you, is the ability to make others want to take action. Supervisors are promoted faster if they can motivate their employees to do better work. Salesmen earn higher commissions if they make their customers want to buy. Teachers get the best positions in their district if they can make the children want to learn.
I don’t think this ability is in demand because few people have it, but because few people know how to develop it. There’s no reason why you can’t easily learn to use a few basic techniques that will make you an instinctive people motivator.
As you know, nobody willingly lets others order him around. People want to think for themselves. A good motivator gets things done by making others want to cooperate. To be a good motivator it’s important to understand some basic principles of motivation.
BASIC PRINCIPLES OF MOTIVATION
First of all, people do what they do because they feel comfortable acting that way. When someone’s happy with the way things are, he has no reason to change. But if this same person becomes unhappy with his circumstances, he will begin to feel uncomfortable. People don’t like to feel uncomfortable, and when they feel this way, they’re open to suggestion. When they learn a new way to behave that removes the discomfort, they will gladly change their actions; they’ll be motivated to act in the new way.
STARTING THE SPARK
Do you remember how Boy Scouts are taught to make a fire without using matches? First they cut a pile of dry wood shavings, and then they strike a flint until sparks fall onto the shavings. Finally they blow on the spark until the shavings start to blaze.
Getting through to other people is a similar process. First you prepare a bed of attention. Then you strike a spark and conversationally fan it until it creates a blaze of interest. To continue the comparison, a spark will burst into a fire faster when the wood shavings are dry and have not absorbed a lot of dampness. Similarly, a blaze of interest is created when the person’s mind is “dry” and not absorbed with its own thoughts or emotions. Here are some ways for you to break down the two most common mind absorbers that prevent you from getting the other person’s attention.
BREAKING THROUGH THE PREOCCUPATION BARRIER
The first one is to break through the listener’s preoccupations. If someone is wrestling with his own problems, he won’t pay attention to you unless what you have to say is more important than his thoughts. One way to penetrate a preoccupied mind is to help the other person solve his problem. Say, for example, you walk into Bill’s office and he is studying a map. You ask if he’s planning a trip, and he responds that he’s leaving tomorrow to drive to a distant city. You can respond with your knowledge and suggestions for the fastest route. At this point Bill’s mind is free and ready to turn its attention to what you have to say. Had you jumped right into what you wanted to tell him, his mind still would have been on the trip.
Second, it is important to relieve the other person’s tensions. When someone’s nerves are tied in knots, his mind will tie up too. So to get his full attention, you must first relieve his tensions.
One of the ways to do this is to set an example by keeping relaxed yourself. Use a quiet, soft voice, slow and deliberate movements, and calm attentiveness toward his personal needs and feelings. Actions like these create a relaxed atmosphere. Don’t discuss a topic that will aggravate or excite him, but talk about relaxing subjects like his hobby or his plans for the coming weekend. There is one exception to this: If he is emotionally uptight about something in particular, then it’s often best to let him talk it out. Once he has had a chance to vent his emotions, he will be more receptive to giving you his attention.
MAKING OTHERS FEEL APPRECIATED
Finally, make him feel appreciated. I have never met a person who did not want to be important in some way. And I have never met a person who I could not swing to my way of thinking when I give him that feeling of importance he wanted so much. Even that rare individual who thinks that he does not want to be important still insists on being heard. So everyone wants the attention of other people, whether he wants to admit that or not. He wants to be listened to; he wants to be heard.
You can benefit from that basic desire to be important. You’ll never go wrong by doing your utmost to fulfill that basic need. Just knowing a person wants importance is not enough, however. You must show him how he can get it. And you must know how to get what he wants before you can ever hope to gain power with him so that you get what you want too. Here are some ways you can do this.
UNDIVIDED ATTENTION GETS THE BEST RESULTS
Give the other person your undivided attention. Psychologists, psychiatrists, ministers, business managers, criminologists, marriage counselors, all have come to one simple conclusion in this art of dealing with people: If you really want to get results from an individual, you must master the art of giving them your undivided attention.
It’s the only way you can be sure of gaining power with people so you can get what you want too. Why is this so? Well, it’s really simple. Our actions to attract another person’s attention are simply an outward manifestation of our inner desire to be important. We yearn for attention. We want our ideas and opinions to be heard. The desire for attention is present in all of us. If you think not, let me ask you if you have ever been
snubbed by a waiter, left standing on the corner by a bus driver, or completely ignored by a salesclerk. Remember what you felt at the time? You know exactly what I am driving at now, don’t you?
A good place to start practicing these skills is right in your own home. Start by going out of your way to pay attention to your spouse or loved one. You don’t have to buy them gifts every day. Instead, let them know by your actions that you know he or she is recognized; this method will cost you absolutely nothing and is, in fact, even more effective. Say “please” or “thank you” to build mutual respect. When you pass each other in the house, gently brush each other’s hand or smile and acknowledge the other’s presence. If they’re involved in a project, take them a glass of water or a soft drink and ask, “How’s it going?” Don’t worry about them not being thirsty. They’ll drink it just to show their appreciation for you because of your concern and caring. These might sound like insignificant things to do, but they are proof positive to your spouse or loved ones that you love and appreciate them.
This works with children too. It doesn’t take a lot of extra effort to give some special attention to your kids. Ask them to play a game with you or go for a bike ride. Pay attention to them and they’ll love you for it. A good, healthy game of Ping-Pong with your teenage son will do more to reduce the generation gap than any lecture you can give him in the back bedroom.
FOCUS ON “THEM’ INSTEAD OF “YOU’
There is no faster way on earth of driving people away from you than by constantly talking about yourself and your own accomplishments. Not even your best friend can put up with never-ending stories of how important you are. Even he will reach the limit of endurance. The only way you can win lasting friends and gain power with people is to
become truly interested in them and their problems. To do this you need to take your mind off yourself and think that other people are just as important as you are.
All of us are self-centered most of the time. To me, the world revolves around me. But as far as you are concerned, it revolves around you. Most of us are always busy trying to impress someone else. We are constantly seeking the spotlight. We continually want to be at center stage. Most of our waking moments are spent in trying to gain attention. But if you really want to communicate with people, you must train yourself to take your mind off yourself. And you can do that be centering your attention on helping others. If you want to understand people better and win their hearts and their support, then you must be willing to help them solve their problems, and fulfill their needs. Simply tell yourself that other people and their problems are as important as your need to get attention. When you adopt this attitude, meaning that you believe it, you won’t have to put on a phony face and butter up the other person to make the attitude work. With this new approach you can stop pretending and looking for gimmicks to make him feel important.
I know of no quicker way to insult people than to brush them off or turn away when they are trying to tell you something. Show your consideration by listening attentively and sincerely when someone speaks. Let that person know that what he is saying is important. Pinpoint his strong points by listening and understanding which of his personal traits he is most proud of, and show him that you recognize these traits.
Thus you get through to other people by first clearing their minds of preoccupations and emotional tensions and by making them feel appreciated as people:
PLANTING THE KEY IDEA
Not that you have captured another’s attention and interest, you’re ready to take the first step toward motivating him – planting the key idea that there is a better way of acting than the way he is acting now.
Remember how you learned math and spelling? You repeated the principles over and over. Educators discovered long ago that, spaced repetition is a vital link in the learning process. Repetition shouldn’t be used in a nagging way; rather, subtle hints should be dropped from time to time, calling attention to the behavior that you want changed – without emotion or judgment. Simply state the fact, as in, “I notice that you don’t have that project finished.”
HOW TO USE THE QUESTIONING TECHNIIQUE
Once you’ve planted the key ideas, guide his thinking with another familiar teaching technique – the questioning technique. “Do you agree it’s important to have this done on time?” or “Do you think it is important to do it this way?” or “Why do you think it is important that you complete this on time or this way?” This technique is much more to your advantage than lecturing, because when you lecture, people will feel that the idea is being forced on them, that they have no say in the matter. It becomes a “have to.” And when someone feels he has to do something that he has no control over, he will resort to avoidance behavior. Worse than that, if he feels he is being forced, he may try to sabotage you. But when you ask questions, people feel that they came up with the idea. Congratulate the other person for realizing the importance of the better way of going about some task. You’ll be making him aware of new behavior without getting him angry with you for “forcing” him to change.
Next you want him to accept that the new behavior or change is more beneficial to him than the way he is acting. This is where the fireworks can begin, because people don’t like to change, so they naturally resist new ways of doing things. But as soon as they can see that the change is more beneficial than their present behavior, they will become dissatisfied with their behavior and they’ll feel an inner conflict. This works to your advantage. Since people don’t like inner conflict, they will do whatever they have to do to eliminate the anxiety or inner conflict. The idea you planted offers the opportunity for the resolution of this conflict. Realizing this, the person will want to accept the idea. So keep talking persuasively about the idea. Keep motivating him to act in the new way. You want him to become so completely involved in the new idea that he finally accepts it as his own and acts on it.
Be suspicious if someone immediately agrees to change. Most people just don’t accept new ways of changing that fast. Many people do play the game of false acceptance, however, their reasoning being. “Why let myself in for a lot of grief?” I’ll agree to whatever he wants and act as if I’ve changed for while, then when he’s forgotten, I’ll go back to my old ways.” A good solution is for you to address the problem by saying, “It’s going to be easy to slip back into your old patterns because habits take a conscious effort to break. What are you going to do to remind yourself to do it the new way?
Since you know that people resist new ideas, why not draw this resistance out into the open where you can handle it conversationally in a positive way? To do this, keep asking questions and encourage the voicing of any feelings about the new objection or try to prove him wrong. This positive approach helps you because it keeps him open- minded. If you start by attacking his objections, he may correctly think to himself, “Why bother talking, he’s not interested in how I feel. He just
wants me to agree with him.” If he feels this way, he will hold back his true feelings.
LOGICAL AND EMOTIONAL REACTIONS TO OBJECTIONS
As he voices his objections, the key questions to ask yourself are, “Is he overreacting to the change and I suggested?” and “Is he being too emotional in his resistance?” If you answer no to these questions, chances are his objections are logical ones. If you answer yes, then he is reacting emotionally. Here are some ways of spotting emotional reactions: his voice is higher pitched or louder than usual; he jumps quickly from one objection to another as if he were trying to overpower your idea by the sheer number of things he can find wrong; he’s stubborn in holding to his previous thinking and refuses to consider your idea; or he brings up objections that are unleashed while hiding his real objections.
This easiest way to counter a logical objection is to face facts with common sense. Patience and a listening ear are your two major weapons when you face emotional objections. The first thing you should do is to encourage the other person to sound off as much as he wants to. Just listen quietly and empathetically until the full force of the emotion is gone. You can’t get through to someone who is emotionally uptight.
After he quiets down is the time to make him realize that he is taking an unreasonable position. Do this by discussion his comments calmly, not by attacking his objections or accusing him of being emotional. Your chances of success are greater if you can get him to admit to himself (not necessarily to you) that he is being unreasonable.
Respond quietly and calmly. Tell him that you are not forcing him to change and consider him to be a very important part of the family unit, business, office, project, etc., and that his responsibilities are important. As you calmly and logically discuss his objections he will begin to feel uncomfortable and he’ll begin to see that his objections are not supported by fact. He’ll begin to see he was overreacting and will start to change his attitude. During your motivating conversation keep projecting sincere interest in the points he raises and keep showing respect for him as a person. Never put him down or make fun of his remarks, but rather listen to him with the same honest concern that you would like if the situation were reversed.
SUPER PERSUADERS MOTIVATE OTHERS TO ACTION
Once your listener has been conversationally motivated by your idea, getting him to change often requires no more effort than simply asking him to take action. Salesmen call it “asking for the order.” And this is where many people fail when trying to motivate others. They present a positive and beneficial case for change, they show the other person what he will gain if he makes the change, and then they stop there. If you want to motivate someone, you must ask him to take action. Firmly ask the other person what you want him to do. Only when he responds to your requests will you have completed your job of conversationally motivating him to take actin. Ask him when you can expect this new behavior or routine to start, and have him accept personal responsibility without you having to monitor or remind him. If he refuses to act, you haven’t satisfied all of his objections. Return to the previous steps and get him to discuss the idea once more. Ask questions that encourage him to bring up any objections he didn’t voice earlier. Then handle these objections in the same way you handled his original ones. Once
this is done, ask him again to carry out the new behavior, action, or routine. Make sure you get his commitment to action.
Once you have motivated someone to act in a new way, everything will go along fine – for a while. But then the original enthusiasm may begin to wane. This is called the thinning-out period. You may find him slipping back into his old ways. This is the time to follow through, to keep him motivated. Do this by reminding him that he was right in making the change in the first place and review the benefits he will gain by completing or continuing the change. You might say, “I certainly like the way you can accept responsibility.” This rewards him and gives him recognition for making the change. Continued recognition will keep him from slipping back into his old habits.
Following are some other points to help you motivate others, especially if you are in business.
Manage by objectives. Give people a clear idea of the results you want to achieve and then leave the methods up to them. Suggest methods, rather than dictating them, with the understanding that people are free to devise something better. Consult people affected by a problem or a proposed change and ask their ideas, regardless of whether you think you need them or not.
Enrich jobs by delegating as far down the line as possible. If a worker is capable of being trained to make a certain decision intelligently, why have it referred to a supervisor? If a supervisor is capable, why have it referred above him?
Guide your people so that they think of constructive solutions you may already have in mind, rather than simply presenting them yourself. If they feel it is their idea, they will be motivated to take action.
Do as much as you can to eliminate needless rules and allow people as much freedom and mobility as possible, as long as they produce good results and don’t interfere with others.
Remember, the more freedom you can give a person to do a job the way they’d like to, the more satisfaction they will get from it, and the better they will do it.
FIVE ACTION STEPS TO HELP YOU MOTIVATE OTHERS TO ACTION
- Make the person you wish to motivate uncomfortable or dissatisfied with his current actions or circumstances.
- Show him a new and better way that will remove his discomfort.
- Listen to his objections and help him come to his own conclusions, through your guidance, that his objections are unfounded.
- Ask him to take action. Give him complete credit for changing, but make sure he knows that you are aware of his accomplishments. Recognition is a powerful motivating force.
- Follow through during the thinning-out period by reminding him that he was right in making the change in the first place, and review the benefits he will gain by completing or continuing the change.
In doing this, you will master the most sought-after job skill today – the ability to make others want to take action. And that’s the primary goal of the Super Persuader.
Using these techniques will insure your ability to motivate, persuade, and make others want to take action. This is the Magic Power of Super Persuasion!