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How to Motivate, Challenge and Influence the People Around You. Part 2.

Updated on August 2, 2016

In part 1 we looked at motivating others. Here we'll look at influencing and challenging people without being negative or causing offence.

If you're a manager (or a spouse or a parent for that matter) you might want to influence and challenge your team to help them improve their performance or to change direction.

In a coaching capacity this can also help them make better decisions than they might have done alone.

When we're influencing and challenging, questions are the answer. Different types of question are useful at different times, for different people and in different situations.

Influencing others - Questions are the answer

Think of a long horizontal line with directional help or advice at one end and coaching/non directional help at the other. This is a continuum that goes from 'you need to make 12 sales calls an hour to reach this target' to 'how can you hit this target?'. You'll move backwards and forwards on the continuum in different circumstances with different co-workers.

At the non directional end of the continuum, your questions will be open (beginning who, what, where, how, and of course, why). They're exploration questions that ask the person to think and formulate their own ideas. Why is this so invaluable? Because when we reach an answer for ourselves it's more powerful and true to us than if we're simply told what to do. It makes us feel more in control.

Between the 2 extremes you might propose alternatives and ask a person to choose or examine an idea. For example 'we've got x situation and y situation. What would you like to see happen?' Or 'some folk in the team are doing A, but if you did B what do you see happening?'

Challenging others

Part of influencing others' behaviour is in challenging it but this doesn't mean a show-down or confrontation.

When you're working on a one to one level with someone, get their permission to ask questions before you begin. It can be as simple as getting them to explain their rationale for an idea and finding that they don't have one(!) to saying that 'as part of my role as manager/coach/mentor I need to hold a person accountable for what they're doing/saying. Are you ok with that?'

In parenting, if you're using this in that context, there are all sorts of paraphrases that work just as well.

Challenging excuses

Here are some common excuses for work not done or poorly completed and some potential 'questions that answer':

I didn't have time or I was too busy.

Answer - what can you delegate? What is a priority for right now?

I don't know what to do next.

Answer - If you were me or if you were the boss, what would you want next? Come to me and ask, I'll direct you.

The project is slow/not going anywhere.

Answer - what do you need to do to make it work faster? Who can help? Have you tried ABC?

Remember to listen for the answers you get that will help you better read the person and understand them.

Unless you're blessed with buckets of charm and chutzpah motivating and challenging people can be difficult and uncomfortable. If it's your role and a manager or even as a good parent, step into that role and wear the mantle of that person, doing as you would be done unto, until you feel more at ease.

Remember to listen for the answers you get that will help you better read the person and understand them.


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    • Temirah profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago

      Thanks Sue - we grow more that way too. Thanks for reading.

    • Sue Adams profile image

      Juliette Kando FI Chor 

      7 years ago from Andalusia

      "when we reach an answer for ourselves it's more powerful and true to us than if we're simply told what to do. It makes us feel more in control." so right

    • Temirah profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago

      Thank you again!

    • Ms Dee profile image

      Deidre Shelden 

      7 years ago from Texas, USA

      Yes, listening is so key to helping people move forward. Excellent and well written!


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