As I wrote yesterday, I’m reading this book called, ‘To sell is human’ by Daniel Pink. I’m half way through the book and my mind is blown. It’s better I wait till I finish the book before I talk about it but I found something interesting that people might find useful. This technique was developed by Michael Pantalon, clinical psychologist and Senior Research Scientist at the Yale School of Medicine.

 Most people I meet motivate each other through fear. Want something done? Shout and threaten the other person. Want to motivate someone to score better marks? Give a two hour lecture on how tough it is to survive in modern times and how choosing an unconventional path will lead to your downfall. Obviously, fear works brilliantly for some time. Then we are back to square one. If threatening doesn’t work, they go back to the classic reward and punishment. The people who are trying to motivate you will never admit that they lack the skills to motivate you. Instead, they will use more fear tactics and the cycle goes on. Michalel Pantalon suggests you to ask two irrational questions to motivate people and for a change, this motivation might work in the long run. Here’s Daniel Pink talking about the two questions:

Imagine you’re a manager at a major PR firm and one of your reports balks at revising an important part of the next big campaign. Instead of asking rational but ineffective questions, try the following two seemingly irrational questions:

1. How ready are you to make the revisions, on a scale from 1 to 10, where 1 means not ready at all and 10 means totally ready?

“On the rare chance that she says, ‘1,’ surprise her by saying, ‘What would turn it into a 2?’ In telling you what it would take for her to become a 2, she reveals what she needs to do before she is able to make the revisions to the campaign. That is what you motivate her to do first.”

2. If she picks a number higher than 2, ask, ‘Why didn’t you pick a lower (yes, lower) number?’

“Question 1 seems irrational, because you’re asking, ‘How ready are you…?’ of a person who just said, ‘No,’ which we can assume means not at all ready. However, most resistant people have some motivation that they keep from us.

If you ask, ‘Are you going to take my suggestion, yes or no?’ they continue to keep their motivation hidden. But if you ask them the ‘1-10’ question, they’re much more likely to reveal their motivation by saying a 2 or a 3, which is far better–you’ve now moved from a ‘No’ to at least a ‘Maybe.’

“Question 2 seems really irrational, perhaps even absurd….However, by asking Question 2, you’re asking her to defend why your directive to revise the campaign is even the slightest bit important to her… rather than to defend her excuses why she won’t do it (e.g., too busy).

Pantalon says that when you ask people why they didn’t pick a lower number, you are actually encouraging them to think about their intrinsic motives. This is quite an interesting technique because it shows how black and white our thinking is. In reality, everything is grey.

The next time you are in such a situation, try this technique. Apply this to everything: On the scale of 1 to 10 (1 means not ready and 10 means totally ready), how ready are you to exercise? How ready are you to work on your relationships? Does it work for you?


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