How to Motivate People to Change

How to Motivate People to Change

Posted on 13. Apr, 2009 in Personal Motivation

A lot of adages tell us that we cannot make people change. An old dog cannot learn new tricks, says one; a zebra cannot change its stripes, says another. But one adage does go, “There is nothing more permanent than change.” How can you reconcile the fact that you can still change no matter how old you are?

Does this mean that there are ways for people to mend their ways? Thankfully, there is hope for you to be able to change people and motivate them to do better. Here are a few tips that you can take into account when you would like to take on the monumental task of convincing someone to change.

  • An adage goes, “Acceptance comes before change,” and this is something that is true no matter what the occasion or thing that you want changed. You cannot simply go smashing and hurtling and driving headlong into a person’s life, and act as the revolutionary whirlwind that will enact change. Change must go slowly, and if it goes too fast, you can expect reversion to occur quickly as well. When starting out a friendship, accept a person’s faults first. Make sure that you set the stage for that person to change because he or she wants to, not because you demanded it and that person simply feels it to be an obligation.
  • Try some dolphin training. What do trainers do to motivate animals to do tricks? They reward animals for a job well done and ignore animals if they do something wrong. This actually works with people as well. You know the exhilaration when you get that raise after years of working hard, that medal after all your hard work in school, that baby after all your hours in painful labor. But you also know how painful it is to be ignored and shown indifference.

When you are pleased with someone’s actions, reward that person with a smile, a compliment, even a treat at a nearby ice cream parlor, if you are so inclined. But when that same person acts badly and you want that person to change, avoid a confrontation: ignore the person instead, and let that person vent until the dust settles and he or she feels that you are ignoring him or her. Repeat until you have the results that you want.

  • Be patient. Change does not happen overnight. If you want a person to change quickly, you are treading into uncertain waters. And if that person does change quickly, you are bound to be heartbroken on two fronts: first, that person could easily be changed and swayed to do anything, and you are stuck with a pushover; and second, that person could quickly revert to old times and hurt you again. You need to muster up a lot of courage and patience to have to deal with such people.
  • Be gentle. You may be tempted to get mad at a friend for hurting you over and over, and you may be tempted to shout and throw a tantrum. You will only add fire to a flame, and you can risk getting yourself hurt without having any significant changes happening. Try talking calmly to your friend, and then leave it at that.
  • Don’t be afraid to walk away. Sometimes, leaving a person to find himself or herself can be a powerful way to make a person actually change for the better.

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