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What Motivates People: How to Speak in Terms of Another Person’s Interests

by robertr

February 21st, 2014

As an employee and manager, getting people to follow your lead with enthusiasm is crucial. Sometimes, that’s a challenge. It will always help you to speak in terms of the other person’s interests. In other words, what’s in it for them? As soon as you make any request, this is the question they will ask themselves, so know what incentives for employees are before your initial proposal. To do this successfully, you’ll need to find out what those interests are first. Here are 4 easy ways to do that:

Be a good listener
Many people listen selectively, but your goal should be to listen attentively. To do this, you should ask questions, which not only shows that you’re listening, but helps you understand what is being explained to you. Show in your body language that you’re interested in what is being said, which will incentivize employees to work hard for you; if you’re seated across from the person, lean in slightly. Finally, paraphrase what the person is saying. You’ll be sure to digest what they’re saying and remember it later.

Become genuinely interested in other people
Let people know they are important to you by asking about their family, trips or hobbies—and remember the details and follow up when appropriate. You don’t have to be your employees’ or clients’ best friend, but learning about what motivates people (whether it be supporting a family, traveling, or a favorite hobby) will help you speak in terms of their interests. For instance, a new parent who is struggling to find a life-work balance may appreciate new systems that will help them leave the office on time (and work hard to get them up and running). Learning about the people you work with can help you to create incentives for employees to work hard on the job.

Let the other person do a great deal of the talking
Whether you’re speaking with a client or a co-worker, talking in terms of another person’s interests starts by letting them contribute more words to the conversation. This goes hand in hand with listening and being genuinely interested in other people. Ask what motivates people, and why. Then, listen and reply with an offer that makes sense based on what they told you.

Step into their shoes

To speak in terms of another’s interests, seeing things from their perspective is imperative. Part of that is listening, but you also must honestly try to understand what motivates people and where they are coming from. People will see through insincere remarks. However, if you can really show them that you are going to the courtesy of understanding their perspective, they will likely do the same for you. And that is how successful relationships are built.


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