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Why You Should Stop Trying to Motivate People

A bonus here, a raise there. Or maybe we should use fear instead? The classical carrot vs whip dilemma to either increase efficiency or lower the turnover rates. There are a lot research papers showing that employees are engaged somewhere from 17–35%. I find that a bit scary.

Extrinsic motivators such as carrots seem like the good guy way of doing it but it never really pans out in the end. If somebody else is offering a tastier carrot people will go for that one instead.

You’ve most likely come in contact with sales-driven companies where there are constant competitions between individuals and teams on who can sell the most or figure out a solution the fastest. Yet I don’t need to state a bunch of statistics to argue that their turnover rates are pretty high. Sure, people get stuff done on short terms but how many get left behind, irritated, hating their job, just for a little bit more money? How many of those go on to having 40 year old crises and totally changing their career path, get totally burnt out or depressed? A good amount.

Instead of making sure they get what they want, start asking why or how things drive them.

The room for reflection is often the first thing to go in stressful situations and in my opinion it should be held onto the most. We don’t learn from failures without the time to reflect on what happened and if we don’t have the space to talk with others and share our reflections we lose out on all those chances of connecting on a deeper level. The connections that enable us to collaborate.

How many times have you been in situations where small petty things became huge over time because somebody didn’t take the time to talk it out?

You can’t motivate people; though you can ask the right questions which will make them find their inner motivation. Giving people the space for reflection on intrinsic motivators create meaning which creates participation on a much deeper level. When each person isn’t resisting their own feelings and is able to go to bed thinking: Ah, that felt meaningful today. Then you can actually keep them engaged.

Too many of us are scared of letting people think for themselves believing that once they do; they will leave the company or get disengaged from the project, etc. No, quite the contrary; if you create the space for self-leadership, reflection on own motivations for every team you will get a team or company that aren’t a bunch of happy dogs running around for treats but actual people. People who will figure out creative solutions to whatever task they have at hand. People who are driven by their inner monologues and meaning. People who are happy and want to share that happiness. People who are motivated.

So, next time you are thinking:

 Ah, we need to get this done fast and much better!!!

Why not try slowing down & take your foot off the gaspedal? Start talking about what’s going on, what people are feeling, why they’re feeling like that and don’t forget yourself.

If you need some tips & tools on how to create that space for reflection you can contact us anytime!

Photo credit: Allegory Malaprop CC BY-ND

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The Art of Listening or Rather Learning How To Listen

When was the last time somebody actually listened to what you had to say?

One of the core fundamentals for any facilitator is the ability to listen; an ability I would strongly argue is a core fundamental for anybody working with people.

Many studies show that we only pick up 25–50% of what people are saying but by honing our skills a little we can get closer to understanding the full spectrum of what is being communicated.

We at The Other Potential often talk about the 3 Levels of Listening; a framework I personally use on a daily basis both when talking with team members in a internal small meeting and facilitating a conference with a variety of people.

What are the 3 Levels of Listening?

1. Internal Listening

Often when we talk to people we tend to relate a lot; inner dialogs & emotions that we would love to share. Ever been in a conversation where somebody cuts you off after every sentence?

“Yeah, I’ve also been to Copenhagen!”
“Oh, yeah. We also ate at that place!”
“That was my favourite bar to go to!”

Internal listening can be great for connecting with people on first basis though when it comes to understanding where or what they want our relating thoughts tend to come in the way.

2. Active Listening

Active listening also referred to as focus listening is one of the more popular frameworks to be taught. By tuning down your internal dialog of references and the need to relate you gain the ability to listen to what is actually said.

One tends to hear the whole story and gives room to complete sentences. Thus giving the participant time to react and/or reflect over what they are saying instead of being cut off in their trail of thought.

Sometimes the best way of getting information from somebody is to sit quietly and wait rather than trying to evoke the answer. By actively listening you create both the comfort & trust for the one sharing but also gain the broader spectrum of what is being said enabling you to create assumptions & questions which you might have overlooked if you were to share your own experiences.

3. 360° Listening

By utilising not only our sense of hearing but also the rest of our senses we start reaching the stage of 360° listening. By gaining awareness of both one’s instinctual and intuitive consciousness you start deciphering what is being said around you.

Your eyes may notice that the person in front of you is more passionate about a subject than what they are actually saying or that another participant in the room is reacting to the story in a different way compared to the rest.

Listening to not only the words being said but also to the tone of voice or the tempo you may notice subtle hints that can lead you to uncovering hidden needs or opportunities in the group you are facilitating.


Learning the 3 Levels of Listening is a lifelong journey

I believe these skills of listening will open up opportunities to train other facilitation skills such as timing, maintaining energy & flow in groups & knowing when to intervene or not.

I hope this basic overview of the 3 Levels of Listening creates the desire to keep on developing your art of listening to the people you want to connect with in your lives.

Feel free to connect, discuss or share some examples where it was obvious that you or the other person was in of these 3 levels.

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The Other Potential Courses

For a project to reach its maximum productivity we need to look beyond the individual. Look at the psychological factors that transform a group of people into a cohesive team. We can only truly reach our full potential by optimizing this team. This is where facilitation comes to play. Facilitation is your key competence and your path to enhance creativity and productivity.

A Guide to Facilitation teaches the principles of facilitation and provides a solid foundation for anyone who leads meetings, workshops, group processes or organizational change initiatives.

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About The Other Potential

The Other Potential is a tribe of people that believe in facilitation as a fundamental way to solve the challenges we are facing in the world. We are passionate about facilitation, leadership and education and we have immersed ourselves into experiences, on all continents, within facilitation in the last decades. We train people in facilitating collaboration and team development.

In a world where we have to respond to constant change and innovation, the ability to turn employees’ knowledge and skills into concrete results is vital. We believe that facilitation is the ability to create constructive processes, that bring teams towards the realization of their goals, visions and values. The art of facilitation builds on knowledge from several disciplines and fields of study such as psychology, education, sociology, organizational development and business management. By using our expertise within process design and facilitation we have helped businesses with organizational development, implementing innovative strategies as well as trained teams and leaders to be more creative and responsive.