Wednesday, December 22, 2010


Sree, I started this article last week intending to post it on Friday and realized after four pages that the explanation was becoming increasingly long! This is the condensed version (that is still quite long!☺)

When you are by yourself.
Looking at your beliefs and learning to understand better who you are and what you want works very well when you are by yourself. You can look at your beliefs and use them to make decisions. For example: I love the taste of sugar, but it really makes me feel wired. I believe that feeling wired is bad for my heart. So I decide not to eat sugar today. Looking at my beliefs helps me to make choices and changes.

Realize that we all have different beliefs
Don’t fool yourself with the belief that you and your wife believe the same things because you've spent years together. Don’t fool yourself into thinking that your kid (your flesh and blood) has your belief system simply because you are raising him. Your beliefs were created by your the experiences and interpretations you applied to them. You alone had those experiences. And the same can be said for anyone you encounter. We are all different. No matter how close we are, we have many different beliefs.

Understand your motivation
Seeing that we are all different, it's not difficult to understand that we also each have our own motivations to do what we do. When you encounter a person doing something you'd prefer he didn't, then I recommend first checking in with yourself to see what your motivation is in that moment. A very easy way to do this is by saying what you want and then continuing your sentence with because...

I want Charlie to stop screaming in this store, because... it makes everyone look at us and that makes me very uncomfortable.

I want to talk with my colleagues at this Christmas party because... I want to get to know more about their personal lives.

This process can dig deeper and deeper...
Everyone looking at me makes me very uncomfortable because...

I want to get to know more about their personal lives because...

It is important to understand your own motivations, because they define your behaviors. Since all the other party sees is your behavior and does not have access to your supporting beliefs and motivations, she can only guess what they are. You could end up in a situation where someone is judging your motivations as "right" or "wrong" even though all she has is a guess.

Recognize that others have motivations you're not aware of!
When we recognize that everyone else in the room has their own motivations too, and that they might not be what yours would be, then you are ready to engage, mingle and interact!

When a family comes together for Christmas, each member has his or her own motivations, and each fabricates the motivations of others. Mom will come so she can to bitch to uncle Charlie about aunt Ethel. Uncle Charlie comes because he likes to drink the whiskey that Grandpa Fred brings every year. Caroline wants to get everyone together because she believes it will bring peace and love to the family. Steve is looking forward to opening his presents.

Aligning motivations.
How can understanding each other’s motivations help?.
  1. Instead of sharing our motivation, we only share our immediate wants (sans motivation).

    Father says "I want you to do your homework right now, Tommy!"

    Tommy refuses, so dad pushes a little harder and says "Look, I'm the boss in this house and as long as you live here, you'll do your homework".

    Tommy says, "No!"


    In this example Tommy doesn’t know or understand his father's motivation, e.g., I want you to do your homework, because it will help you get a scholarship to Northwestern and otherwise I can't afford to send you there.

    Dad doesn't know or understand why Tommy refuses to do his homework: my friends make fun of me all the time for getting better grades then them. They say I am a mamma's boy, and I'm not! I want to show them that I am cool.

    If dad and Tommy had shared their motivations, they would have come to the astonishing conclusion that they both want Tommy go to a great school and to be respected by his friends. Instead of fighting about homework and who's the boss, they could have made a plan together about how to get into school while at the same time impressing Tommy’s friends.

  2. Clashing Motivations.
    "Candice, if you go to school in that shirt, they will expel you for two days! You know that!", says mother with a sigh while trying to get her daughter into more appropriate school clothes. It would be awful to have her daughter miss two days of school in her already not-very-good school year.

    Candice responds sarcastically with a grin, “Ohh, yeah! That would be awwwwful.” And runs out to catch the school bus before her mom can stop her.

    In this situation, Mom wants Candice to go to school so she can eventually grow up to become a nurse. Candice wants to move to New York, work in the store of her friend Marty, and take acting lessons.

    It is very important to see that they each have very different motivations. When they are able to share their different motivations and accept them as both being valid, they can talk about why they want what they want and come to a deeper understanding of each other.

    "Mom, I love you a lot and I know you care about me, but I really want stop school and start acting!"

    "Candice, I never knew you were so passionate about acting! Have you ever heard about a bachelors degree in Liberal Arts, an education that can help you become a great all around actor?"

    It could be that Candice would respond to this conversation with, "Mom, now that we've talked about all this I realize I better finish high school."
  3. Judging other’s motivations.

    When we judge another’s motivation it makes further communications impossible.

    Mother: "My son says he wants to become a nurse and work with the elderly. What is he thinking? I've got to change his mind. He is ruining his future."

    Son: "My granddad worked his whole life taking care of his family. Now that he is old, no one cares about him sitting alone in his tiny apartment, not even capable of tying his shoes. I want him and others to be able to live dignified lives in their older years. I want to become a nurse to help them."

    If the mom is not willing to hear or understand the motivation of her son, this could break the relationship they have together.

The End!
I will stop here, before this version becomes as long as my first draft!

Let me recap. If we're involved with adults or children who do things we don't like or want, then it's important to stop focusing on what we want (or don't want) and start focusing on why we want or don't want it.

First, understand your own motivations. It may be that once you see them, you may simply relax and accept what the other person is doing. If not, you'll at least be able to better explain why you want what you want.

Second, before correcting or trying to change the behavior of the other person, find out what his or her motivation is. Once you understand it, you may agree with them.

Third, if you don't agree, rather than judging the other's motivation, work to better understand it. Also, share your own motivation. After seeing it, he or she may decide that you've got a good idea.

Fourth (and maybe this comes first), decide that underneath it all, you are motivated by what is best for the other person. Share that with them.

Anyway, my motivation for writing was to better explain motivation.

What was your motivation for reading?



  1. :) i thought your motivation for writing about motivation, wasn't so much to explain about motivation, but to understand for oneself, what it is about for yourself, and simply to share, or to invite others to share their thoughts as well.

    My motivation for reading what you share, is out of curiosity, and to compare beliefs.

    All motivation is self-motivation I've come to embrace. A lot of the reasons people are motivated to choose what they do seems to oftenly be rooted in some degree of fear, and it seems this robs many from simply en-joying the moment, the 'present.'


  2. Iris: thanks for the comprehensive and clear mapping of motivations and what we can do with them. I think I'm with you all the way, though I want to ponder awhile on the fourth point of your recap, especially in the case of kids. Also, the other aspect I struggle with sometimes is to work all this out in the 'heat of the moment', so to speak, or when I'm wanting resolution quickly. Hmm, maybe I could recognize that (the need for speed) as another motivation and handle it accordingly.

    My motivation for reading & processing this is that I often see people having trouble with multiple issues (say, multiple people or situation), while the real problem is HOW they address an issue (in this case, dealing with people). So improving one's problem-solving skills helps across the board.

  3. Looking back at the original issues, I'm reminded of my sales training, and in assisting people to make the choices they want to....(sell the sizzle, not the steak)

    As well, when one has the intention to motivate, or to move someone to do something, it is useful to answer the unspoken response, "Why, what's in it for me?" (if one does not provide a meaningful answer to that unspoken question, one is prone to come across as simply being a bully and adverserial.) imho bw

  4. @Scree: you might not have to work out anything. Just practice being curious about your own and others motivation in the moment, and you will start to respond differently in the moment, because you will enhance the belief: we all have different motivations - and our motivations will change over time (that time being 3 sec or 5 yrs - one never knows).
    Love Joy


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