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13 September 2022

Motivating People Starts with Making Emotional Connections

Jairek Robbins

Do you own a small business and are at a loss regarding how to make your employees share in your vision for the enterprise? Are you a manager at your workplace and are struggling to motivate your team? The missing key that could transform you into an exceptional leader is the ability to make emotional connections with the people around you, such as your direct reports or employees. In this post, we will discuss a few approaches/strategies which you can use to create and nurture strong emotional connections with people so that they are motivated to follow your lead.

But first, why are emotional connections important at the workplace and in life?

As you may be aware, logic enables us to think, but emotions drive us to act. In order to get people to do what you want, you must appeal to their emotions. In other words, there has to be an emotional connection between you and the person you would like to act in a certain way.

Maya Angelou famously said, and I paraphrase, people are most likely to forget all the things you ever did, and they are likely to forget all the things you ever said, but they will always remember how you made them feel. Put simply, Angelou is emphasizing that emotions are all that matters in interpersonal relations. It doesn’t matter what you say; the emotional bond that exists will dictate how a person reacts to you.

This brings us to another important insight. If you are a leader, your technical skills don’t matter a great deal. What matters is your ability to interact with other people. After all, you are a leader of people, and you work through people. Interpersonal skills will therefore determine whether you succeed or fail as a leader. Not your technical skills.

The success of your small business or your ability to attain the goals of the team you lead at your workplace will largely depend on how well you connect with those people at an emotional level. The following three strategies can help you to develop the right emotional connections so that loyalty, commitment, engagement and unity become the hallmark of the people you work with or lead.

Use anger productively

As a leader or business owner, many things will rub you the wrong way and cause you to be angry. Missed deadlines on a crucial project, team member sloppiness, sudden cancellation of an order by a client due to a defect in a previous consignment, the list is endless.

During such moments, it is easy to shout at your employees or cut them off as they try to explain. It is easy to slam the door and stomp off. It is easy to slip into a verbal confrontation with the person supposedly or actually responsible for what has gone wrong.

But, do such understandably human reactions motivate those around you to work harder, to believe in your vision, to have a sense of belonging to the organization? 

A leader with emotional intelligence recognizes the emotions which are threatening to boil to the surface within them and they take a step back and bring themselves under control so that their response is productive rather than destructive.

For example, when you are angry that a project completion deadline has been missed, take a step back and ask yourself why exactly you are angry. Is it because you are afraid that you are going to lose a major client of the business? Are you concerned that the reputation of your team is going to be ruined? Are you worried that you may be unable to make payroll since you had hoped that the money from that project would give you the financial boost you need to pay your employees?

When you think through and isolate the root cause of what is manifesting as anger or any other negative emotion, you have what you need to communicate meaningfully with your team and motivate them to move beyond the current crisis and perform at a higher level. Explaining your disappointment about the missed deadline and outlining the big picture implications of such a missed deadline will draw your team closer and they are more likely to respond with determination to prevent such from happening again. This is especially possible if you avoid apportioning blame and instead focus on getting a solution. That is how you can motivate people by building emotional connections.

Make enthusiasm contagious

As a leader or business owner, you are the vision bearer and may be taken aback when you don’t see your direct reports or employees sharing in your enthusiasm. 

In this case, we suggest that you make your enthusiasm contagious so that your entire team is infused with a burst of that eager energy that you possess with regard to accomplishing the goals of your business or project.

Explain how what you want done connects to a higher purpose, and show your employees or team members how their individual efforts contribute to the smooth running of the entire organization and the attainment of its objectives.

When people realize that what they do has broader implications and purpose, they are likely to be more engaged and they often invest more energy into accomplishing the goals that have been set for them. What else is motivation if not getting people to devote more energy, be more engaged and care about the accomplishment of group goals?

Place development and coaching at the core of your push for more engagement

Zig Ziglar famously said that you can have anything you want if you help lots of people to get what they want. If you would like the employees in your small business to be more engaged at work, focus on coaching and helping them to develop as individuals.

For example, when you help an employee to further their education in their field of expertise, the additional skills they get will be put to use in your business or organization. Productivity will soar as a result. Additionally, the employee will be more loyal to the organization because they are certain that the enterprise cares about them as individuals.

As you coach your team, the focus is on them, and not on you. You are helping them to overcome their challenges. You are helping them to find easier ways to accomplish their tasks and objectives. In putting people first, they in turn put you and the organization first because you have proven through your actions (not mere rhetoric and slogans pinned on walls!) that they matter to you. That is how to motivate by making emotional connections.

In closing, people have an innate drive to bond, and it is some actions or omissions on our part that stand in the way of those bonds. Think about that person you went with to school and they barely said a word to you. When you meet in a foreign country several years later, they suddenly act like you were the best of friends back in school! That is proof of our innate drive to bond. Nature is therefore on your side in your quest to form emotional bonds that will help drive productivity and growth in your organization. So, put the strategies above to work, and watch the magic happen in your team!


To Your Success,

Jairek Robbins

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