The Difference Between Convincing Versus Motivating – Forbes

April 20, 2021 By ubuntucafe Off


I had just finished a coaching session with a client who mentioned he was going to convince his team of something. There was a significant pause between us before he said, “Did I say something wrong?” Not really. However, it began our exploration of a method more effective than convincing.

Convincing someone to get on board with an idea or to get them to do something is not as effective as other methods and carries with it an energy that might make the other person become defensive. There are times to use this method, but there are other approaches, such as motivation, that can be more effective while achieving the same result.

First, let’s look at the individual who needs a nudge in some direction. The root issue you are dealing with is some form of resistance.

What brings about the shield of resistance? Change. Most individuals do not like change, especially in the workplace. Here is what a person may be saying to themselves when a change is presented to them:

1. I don’t understand it.

2. I’m uncomfortable with it.

3. I don’t like it.

Understanding which one you are dealing with is paramount to getting past the resistance.

1. I don’t understand it.

For this first objection, you need to take a different approach from retelling the person what you have already said. Retelling them is an effort to convince them. Stepping into their discomfort and exploring what they don’t understand allows you to educate them instead of trying to convince them to get on board with the idea. Once there is understanding, the next step is to motivate them to help you bring the rest of the team on board.

2. I’m uncomfortable with it.

When an individual says, “I’m uncomfortable with it,” they are coming from a place of fear, as you are asking them to step out of their comfort zone. Trying to convince them will only be met with more resistance.

Instead, you need to alleviate their fears by being curious, asking questions, stepping into their shoes and being empathetic to their fears. Stepping into someone’s shoes is the ability to relate to them and opens the door to ease their resistance as they can let their guard down when they feel understood.

When I discussed this topic with a fellow coach, she had a great point: The objective is to change human mindset or behavior. Your job is to inspire and stir something within the other person that compels them to make a choice to change.

3. I don’t like it.

If we consider the third resistance, “I don’t like it,” once again, becoming curious and finding out what they do not like creates less resistance, and in their discourse, there will be an opening to inform and inspire. Remember, you want to discover something within that person that will compel them to make a change.

You may be asking yourself, “Why is change met with so much resistance? To gain a competitive edge, we need to be agile, innovative and flexible, which requires change.” Let’s look more deeply into the “why” of the resistance.

In his book Thinking, Fast and Slow, Daniel Kahneman presents two concepts: cognitive ease and cognitive strain. Cognitive strain is when we are learning something new, like a child learning to tie their shoes. We have to pay close attention; we have to apply ourselves and not be distracted in order to gain mastery of this new skill. Once mastered, we can move from cognitive strain into cognitive ease because we can now tie our shoelaces while talking to someone or thinking about our grocery list at the same time.

When change occurs in the workplace, we loathe having to move into cognitive strain. It slows us down, it’s unfamiliar, it’s a challenge, and we basically would rather do what we know and not have to think too much about it.

When motivating versus convincing, you too have to apply yourself and make a change in your approach. Making this change to get someone on board with your idea requires being open to their resistance and to the changes presented. In this manner, everyone makes a shift, moving the organization forward in a healthy and more successful manner. Once resistance is removed, you can motivate so performance is great and retention and engagement improve.