Leadership Today
Influencing with Words: Part 2

In my last blog, I spoke about Strategic Inquiry, three of the traits that, if triggered, will motivate us to take action, and the first of those traits being Criteria. In Part 2, I would like to talk about the second trait, Direction.* 

Studies have found that 80% of the population falls into one of two directions for motivation. Half of the group (40%) are people motivated by Moving Towards a goal and the other half (40%) are motivated by Moving Away From a problem. The rest of the population tends to move back and forth between the two. The interesting thing about these two directions is that they both have strong points as well as limitations.
Those who are Moving Towards people tend to be proactive, not responsive to problems and can be labeled as “blue sky” thinkers. They are always looking for the next big thing and are restless to stay in one place. Many leaders fall into this group because they are visionary and extremely goal-oriented. You will recognize these individuals by the fact that they promote quickly, change jobs frequently or move quite often. They are a huge resource for coming up with BIG ideas but tend to not want to stick around to see them sustained over a long period of time. They are too busy looking for the next BIG thing. Typical words that you will hear them use are: achieve, benefits, vision and advantages. If we want someone who is a Moving Towards person to take action, we will want to challenge them with a goal to achieve.
The people that fall into the Moving Away From category tend to be more reactive. They are okay with the status quo if it is a comfortable place for them. The real strength that they bring to the team or organization is that they are typically great problem solvers. They are quick to take action when a crisis or problem arises. The trick to motivating this group to take action is to create dissatisfaction with the current situation. They are often seen as cynics and have a hard time staying focused on being creative. Some of the words that you will hear them use are: avoid, fix, prevent and solve.
Questions that you can use to uncover which bucket individuals are the most comfortable in are:
·         “What will having that <criteria> do for you?”
·         “What’s important about <criteria>?”
·         “What will you get out of that?”
The key to helping any of these people to take action is to create common ground by speaking their language. Use the terminology that has meaning to them. In the story I shared about my son last time, I uncovered that he is a Moving Away From person, by asking some of these questions. One of the reasons I was not getting any positive movement from him was because I was speaking to him out of my Mind Map which just happens to be Moving Towards. I might as well have been speaking a foreign language to him.

* Drawn from “Words That Change Minds: Mastering the Language of Influence”, by Shelle Rose Charvet

 Many thanks,

Sondra Calhoun



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