Motivation and Relatedness

Summary: “Human beings have an innate desire to feel connected to others who are important to them.”

In the harsh environment of prehistoric times, being connected to, and accepted by, others was often a matter of survival. Therefore, people evolved in a way that makes them innately want to be accepted by those important to them and by cooperative groups important to them. It is programmed into their DNA to aid survival. If you support this built-in desire, you will be able to interact more successfully with most people; go against it and things will not go so well.

You can read a library full of books on leadership and influence, but one of the main things you need to do if you want to be a good leader, parent, spouse, or friend is to make people feel valued and accepted. This, of course, does not mean you must always agree with them. As the saying goes, you should address a person’s behavior if you have a problem with them, rather than attacking them personally.

In terms of motivation, this feeling of being connected to others is one of the three psychological needs that energize people (see also posting on Self-Determination Theory). Therefore, if you want to create a motivational environment, simply make people feel valued and accepted.

One good way to practice this idea is to give up sarcasm and see what happens. I know that will be difficult for many of you, but sarcasm is one of the most common forms of non-acceptance. I want to quickly point out that I define sarcasm as “humor at someone else’s expense.” Therefore, I am not suggesting that you give up humor. Just give up humor that makes someone else feel devalued and rejected. I’ve received some pretty interesting and very positive feedback from people who have tried this idea after years of being quite sarcastic individuals. Give it a try and see what happens in your case.

It is a good way to more joyfully participate in life…and help others do so.

Joyfully participate in life today…Chris


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