So I was late paying my phone bill. Instead of threatening to cut off my phone, the message I received from the telco told me that “to continue to enjoy uninterrupted service” I should pay. Which I did, after a quiet giggle to myself: they’ve had some training in “positive” language!
I see this in coaching, too, where a client may say something they don’t want, like, “I don’t want to be fat anymore!” and the coach then prompts them with, “So if you don’t want to be fat any more, what do you want to be, instead?” This may be an important conversation for someone who has never thought about what they want, but it isn’t necessarily the best way to influence or motivate someone.
In NLP, we talk about “towards” and “away from” metaprograms. People who are “towards” motivated are driven by a sustained vision of something they might want, such as uninterrupted phone service – get it? People who are “away from” motivated are driven by what they are trying to avoid, such as, you guessed it, having their phone disconnected. It is a fallacy and a great shame that away-from motivation is seen as somehow “negative” and therefore undesirable. Neither motivation is better than the other: we actually need both. Why?
Because perfect motivation is about what you don’t want as well as what you want.
People who are 100% towards motivated have long-term stamina to achieve goals… but not the impetus to get started.
People who are 100% away-from motivated have immediate get up and go to start goals… but not the stamina to see them through to the end.
The good news is that most people have 50% each way, and if you appeal to both metaprograms, they will be both influenced and motivated to start and finish.
I include both types in the copy I write, and also when setting goals for myself and with others. My favourite tool for goal setting is the windscreen and rear view mirror. This works as a visualisation, or a vision sheet you write on.
Here’s how it works:
You visualise yourself driving. Through the windscreen, you see all the good stuff you’re heading towards: health, great relationships, wealth, or whatever you desire (including uninterrupted telephone service). And in the rear view mirror, you see everything you want to get away from: sickness, loneliness, poverty, or whatever bites at your heels.
Acknowledging what you want as well as what you don’t want gets you off the starting blocks and through the finish line. Give it a go! And if you’d like a copy of your very own windscreen and rear view mirror vision sheet, just let me know and I’ll rush you a copy.