Have you ever struggled to phrase things in a way that really inspires people? Be it your colleagues, potential customers, or an audience eager to learn from you?
While there’s no one-size-fits-all method for putting together an inspirational message, there is some compelling science behind the kind of language that motivates people to act.
In his new book, The Infinite Game, Simon Sinek points out that human beings are generally programmed to want to fight for something more strongly than to want to fight against something.
In other words, we’d rather work to build something up than to tear it down.
For example, imagine you’re the mayor of a city and you want to motivate your team to get the unemployment rate down. You could say, “we’re at a 4% unemployment rate, let’s get that down to 0.”
OR, you could say: “We all know there’s an unemployment issue in our city. It’s our job to ensure that ALL of our constituents have the opportunity to earn enough money to support their families and pursue their individual ambitions. We’re at a 96% employment rate, let’s get that number up to 100 and make sure it stays that way.”
Studies show that there’s something intrinsically more motivating about the positively framed, big-vision message as opposed to the problem-focused goal.
Yes, talking about fixing a problem and getting a number down to 0 is crucial (and motivating to a degree), but what really inspires action (not just right now but for the long-haul) is painting a vivid vision of what building something up to 100 will look and feel like. A future worth working toward.
And this concept doesn’t just apply to big, overwhelming problems in our society, but also to the day-to-day problems you’d like to solve at work, and the solutions you’d like potential customers to invest in.
For example, let’s say you’re a team lead and you’ve noticed there’s some negative joo joo between a couple of your colleagues. Instead of advocating for less complaining and less gossip at work, ask for more suggestions on how to solve recurring problems. Encourage people to talk to each other, instead of about each other.
The vision? A supportive and solution-oriented dynamic where everyone feels like they genuinely belong and have enough respect for one another to address conflicts proactively. If you were to share that vision, and be constructive with your language (i.e. “do this”) instead of negative (i.e. “don’t do this”), you’ll be way more effective at inspiring the change you want to see.
Bottom line: There’s nothing wrong with using language that’s goal oriented, but if you really want to inspire action, make sure the goals you’re articulating are framed proactively, and that you’re painting vivid images of what taking action will lead to—so that others can take part in building those things alongside you.
Next time you’re giving a talk, pitching new business, or leading a meeting – how can you use this insight to frame your message in a more proactive, vision-driven way?
Keep building things and inspiring those around you to build things with you. We need your ideas, your vision, and your inspiration more than ever.
All my love,
P.s. If we’re not already connected on social, come follow along on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn!
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