Do you sometimes feel like you’re wasting your breath, trying to tell people what to do, what they should be doing, or giving them tips on how they could get better results? Are you trying to sell an idea and they just don’t get it?
Then stop “telling” and start “asking”.
Can you come up with good questions? One that get the other person thinking about what you want them to think about? Can you at least come up with a question that will open them up to thinking about what you want them to think about?
Motivating someone is about helping them to come up with the reason why such-and-such is a good idea - for themselves!
Here are a couple of guidelines for how to ask “good” questions:
• Ask friendly, clarifying questions.
• The questions should be fair. You don't set traps.
• Ask open-ended questions.
(Open-ended questions are the ones that can’t be answered with just a “Yes” or a “No", or other one word answer, like "How many eggs are in that basket?")
• Ask “active” questions. Active questions require the person the take responsibility for their answer.
(“Passive” questions means somebody else, or the environment, is responsible for the answer and "that other thing" will part of how the question is answered.)
• Be grateful and aware that the person may not have an answer for you just yet.
• Avoid causing the other person stress.
• Avoid asking rhetorical questions – unless you want to enter into a philosophical discussion.
• Avoid being too direct. This can come across as being aggressive.
• Listen for the answer (silence is golden!).
Daniel Pink, a management expert and the author of five best-selling books, (my favorite is “Drive. The surprising truth of what motivates us”) said in an interview with Big Think:
“The key here is that we tend to think that persuasion or motivation is something that one person does to another, what the social science tells us very clearly is that it’s really something that people do for themselves. And your job as a persuader, as a motivator, is to reset the context and surface people’s own reasons for doing something. Because it works a lot better.”
The moral of this story is: "You are responsible for motivating yourself!"