How to Motivate Others with the Right Choice of Words ?
In 1974, a survey was conducted by Dr. Elizabeth Loftus in her experiments wherein a video of a car crash was showed to people who were asked after what they could remember. Some were asked if they had seen “the” broken headlight while some if they had seen “a” broken headlight. Those that had the the-survey claimed that they had seen it two to three times as often as those that had the a-survey did. There was actually no broken headlight at all.
Those who took the a-survey were more likely to choose “I don’t know” than those who took the the-
survey. This goes to show that a slight change in words could make a huge impact on what people think they recall.
What humans see, they interpret and act upon
Humans are quick to give interpretations of visual scenes and decide an action upon them. The problem is we see differently, and this limits the effectiveness of a group when not properly managed. We think that how we see as it is comprises the whole picture.
With this, the leader has to make the entire group see what everyone thinks as reality – that is, what they see – and present each perspective equally important.
Escalate on the ladder of control
Level 7: “I’ve been doing…”
Level 6: “I just did…”
Level 5: “ I intend to…”
Level 4: “Request permission to…”
Level 3: “I recommend…”
Level 2: “I think…”
Level 1: “Tell me what to do…”
To push authority to rock-bottom was one of the leadership principles we practiced. Before, officers would “request permission to” perform operations but this has already changed. From asking permission, we replaced it with “I intend to…” With this, I, who initially had a lot of questions regarding so many things pertinent to the permission, had eventually fewer queries as they give necessary information while stating their intent.
The benefit of a small incremental change in language was that the officers were now the power setting the submarine’s operations in motion rather than me, the leader. A shift from “request permission” to “I intend to…” moved them one step up on the ladder of control. Rather than merely being passive followers, they are now proactive engaged leaders.
Tell me what to do
We often encounter a lot of “tell me what to do” in various situations although not exactly in those words. Say, presenting a problem to the boss without offering any solution is just a disguise of “tell me what to do.”
Keep your people from doing this. As you do this, you are able to make subordinates take ownership and control, hence, they become more engaged that involvement and passion are just an inevitable outcome.
This requires hard work. The pressures of your job will compel you to work at the bottom of the ladder; this does not need to be the case, though. Always remember to ask for what your subordinate has to say on what action you should take and listen.
Surely, these small steps will profoundly affect your organization’s effectiveness and more, the lives of its people.