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Shifting Context = Shifting Motivation

By | David Klaasen | Helping You Create Clarity, Inspire Your People & Drive Performance | Retain your best people | Changing Management Mindsets and Behaviour | Practical Behaviour Analytics

No matter how clear we try to be, there will always be people who seem to get the wrong end of the stick, especially at work (and in intimate relationships!). Most misunderstandings occur because we are not being clear about the context of our communication; this is because a shift in context can often mean a shift in what really motivates us.

For example, just imagine a big bowl of your favourite fruit . . . perfectly ripe, just the way you like it. It is easy to smell it and to see yourself about to take a mouthful . . . as you anticipate tasting the juicy, perfectly ripe and freshly cut fruit you may even notice that you start to salivate a bit. However, what happens to your appetite if you were to discover that the bowl containing the fruit is a toilet bowl. The fruit hasn’t changed but the context that the fruit is in has changed dramatically. This will probably change your motivation and your appetite.

We can define a context by answering the questions, where? when? and with whom?  It is important to recognise the context that you yourself are in when you are speaking to others and how it may differ from the context that they are in. If you are mis-reading the context of your audience (even if it is only one person) you may not get the response you expect.

When are you General or Specific?

What motivates someone in one context may not motivate them in another. My wife Pam is a Chartered Statistician and therefore needs to be very specific in her approach to work. I have a tendency towards seeking the overview and the big picture because I need to listen carefully for the key issues that are preventing my clients from getting the results they want. Pam’s natural motivation towards detail can often spill over into many other contexts like shopping and keeping the house clean and tidy.

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