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Motivating Others to Act

by Ron Kurtus (17 August 2003)

Motivating others is the process of giving another person an incentive to move him or her to some desired action. It is an important factor in business and sales.

Whether or not the action is taken depends on weighing the desire for the reward or the fear of punishment versus the work required.

Questions you may have include:

This lesson will try to answer these questions. There is a mini-quiz near the end of the lesson.

Promise or threaten

To motivate another person, you must either promise or offer something that the person wants, threaten to take away something the person does not want to lose, or threaten harm to the person.


People desire things that gives them pleasure, satisfaction or enjoyment. They may also desire products or services that will help solve problems or concerns.

Salesmen will often paint a picture of the benefits of using a product or service, such that the customer can visualize the rewards and pleasure achieved. Some examples are:

Employers will often use incentives to motivate their workers to greater productivity. Money has always been a good motivator, because people can then buy whatever they want. Managers may also promise a promotion or special recognition to motivate their people.


The threat of punishment can also be used to motivate others.


A combination of the promise of a reward and the threat of punishment is often an effective way to motivate. It is called the "carrot and stick method" of motivation.

An employee will do a good job at work under the promise of a raise and the threat of losing his job.


Although the desire for the product or service can be built up, the required action is a determining factor in motivation. What do you require the person to do to try to get the reward?


The car salesman has created a desire for a stylish, safe, economical automobile in the eyes of the potential customer. But there is the requirement that the customer pay a substantial amount of money to fulfill his dream.

Other examples of requirements for getting rewards include:


Examples of requirements to avoid punishment include:

Decision and motivation

By weighing the value or importance of what you promise or threaten versus the work or action required, the person you are trying to motivate makes decision whether or not to try to get what he or she wants.

TV pitchman

You--as the pitchman on the TV infomercial--promise all sorts of benefits from buying the product or set of motivational tapes. To maintain the motivation, the price is reduced from $300 to only 10 payments of $29. The customer is motivated and makes a decision to buy.

Motivate your children

You want to motivate your children to get better grades in school. You offer to take them to Magic Mountain, if they promise to study and extra 30 minutes each night. The cost doesn't seem so bad compared to the value of going to the amusement park, so they are motivated to agree.

Motivate a dog

You want your dog to behave in a certain way. You offer a treat for it to do a task, but you also scold the animal if it does not obey. The combination of a reward and punishment motivates the dog to do what you want it to do.


Although you must enhance the benefits and desire for a reward, you must also make the requirements palatable and easy, so that the person or animal will remain motivated to do as you want.

Think of what others want

Resources and references

Ron Kurtus' Credentials


Motivating Moments- Motivational quotes

Motivating Students - Tips from University of California-Berkeley

Value Resources


(Notice: The School for Champions may earn commissions from book purchases)

Top-rated books on Motivation

Questions and comments

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