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Motivate with positive feedback

Q: Can you give us some tips for how to motivate a person?
A: It will be my pleasure.
I am fortunate to have a boss who not only trusts my abilities as a health and fitness director but also has a way of asking employees so that we want to comply.
I have worked for different bosses. When I worked in Cannes, France, I had a boss who would just bark orders at everyone; nothing we did was ever good enough. Needless to say, I worked there for just one summer. (I quit, even though the money was great)
I believe to motivate a person, whether it is to work better or harder, lose weight, get healthier or grow in a relationship is to use positive feedback. By building someone up with positive feedback, they are much more likely to improve than when you tear them down and “guilt” them to do something. Often, their self-esteem will drop or they just don’t care anymore.
Why bother if the outcome is always negative?
I like to give an example using my horses. A young horse can be terrified for a farrier to come and just trim his hooves. If the horse has not been trained to pick up his feet, the horse’s first instinct is fear and flight when the farrier puts him on three legs to trim and file away. So let’s put a lip twitch on to make the horse mind and stand still for the farrier. Finally the feet are done.
Do you think the horse’s experience was a good one?
The next time when the truck pulls up, the horse will already be nervous and possibly defy your authority, due to fear, by kicking and so forth.
Now, if you had trained the horse to pick up his feet and let him feel taps and filing, the horse would have reacted a whole lot differently and his experience would have been much better, and the next time would have been less scary.
The same thing applies to people who work for you, your children, your spouse or loved one. When something is not done correctly, ask yourself: Do they know how? Have they been trained appropriately?
You can’t blame your worker, child, spouse or loved one if they do not know that there is a problem or they have not been taught how to do something.
Have you communicated that there is a problem?
How have you presented the “issue”?
“I can’t believe you hit that post with the car; are you stupid or something?”
How about: “I noticed a dent in the car; are you OK? What happened?
Or this: “Yes, you are fat because you are lazy and keep stuffing your mouth with junk.”
How about: “Yes, I have noticed that you have gained some weight, I am concerned for your health; what can I do to help you lose weight? I will join the YMCA/gym with you, if that will help.”
It all sounds so corny, some of you will say, but guess what? It is effective and it is a way most people would like to be treated.
So much more will be accomplished with positive feedback, and yet again you will see more smiles on people’s faces.
Contact Ester Marsh with health and fitness questions at 704-636-0111 or emarsh@rowanymca.com.

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