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:
- What type of promises or threats can you give?
- What is the action or work required?
- What determines the person's motivation to seek the reward?
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:
- It will save you work and time
- It will make a great impression on your friends and neighbors
- It tastes great and is less filling
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 robber can threaten harm in order to motivate a victim to hand over his money
- Parents often threaten to punish their children to get them to behave
- The government threatens punishment to those breaking the law in order to promote social order
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:
- The employee must work overtime to get a promotion
- The child must get good grades to get the desired bicycle
- The audience must pay money to see their favorite singer entertain
Examples of requirements to avoid punishment include:
- The worker must come to work on time or be docked pay
- The person must give his money or the robber will harm him
- You must take out the garbage or suffer a smelly house
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.
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
Motivating Moments- Motivational quotes
Motivating Students - Tips from University of California-Berkeley
(Notice: The School for Champions may earn commissions from book purchases)
Questions and comments
Do you have any questions, comments, or opinions on this subject? If so, send an email with your feedback. I will try to get back to you as soon as possible.
Share this page
Click on a button to bookmark or share this page through Twitter, Facebook, email, or other services:
Students and researchers
The Web address of this page is:
Please include it as a link on your website or as a reference in your report, document, or thesis.
Where are you now?
Motivating Others to Act