A talk about motivation

A talk about motivation

Listen to the talk about motivation to practise and improve your listening skills.

Do the preparation task first. Then listen to the audio and do the exercises.



So, we think we know how to motivate people, right? Offer them a reward. Do this and you'll get this. Do this faster, earn more money. Do this better than everyone else, here's a promotion. We offer incentives when we want people to do things. We do it at work, at school, even at home with our kids. Tidy your room and you can watch TV.

But when social psychologists test whether incentives work, they get surprising results. Sam Glucksberg, from Princeton University, America, set people a problem to solve and told them he was going to time them to see how long they took. Then he put them in two groups. He offered one group a reward for finishing fast. Five dollars for anyone finishing in the top 25 per cent and 20 dollars for the person who finished the fastest of all. To the other group he offered no incentive, but he told them he was going to use their times to calculate an average time.

The first group, the ones with the reward, solved the problem faster, you'd think, right? Well, no, they actually took three and a half minutes longer than the group who just thought they were being timed. Incentive didn't work. In fact, it made them slower. This experiment has been repeated, with the same results, many times. But in business we still offer bonuses, promotions and rewards to staff.

That's fine if we want them to do something simple, like chop wood. We'll pay you more if you chop the wood faster. An incentive works then. But if we want someone to do something complex, something creative, something where they have to think, rewards don't work. They might even have the opposite result, and make people perform worse. Another study, by Dan Ariely, showed that the bigger the reward, the worse the subjects performed on a complex task. The reward made them focus so hard on the result that they couldn't think creatively any more.

And this all matters because more and more simple jobs will become automated. We'll be left with creative, problem-solving jobs that computers will never do. And we need to find a way to motivate people to do those jobs when we've proved the traditional incentives don't work.

So what does work? Giving your workers freedom; freedom to work on the things they want to work on, freedom to choose when, where and how they work. Want to work from home three days a week, get up late and work into the night instead? Fine. Just do the job well. And evidence shows people who choose the way they work get results. Companies that give employees time during the week to work on things that interest them and are not part of their regular job achieve amazing things. Some of the big tech companies are good examples of this, with ping-pong tables and areas to relax in …

Task 1

Task 2


Worksheet81.46 KB

Language level

Average: 4.4 (89 votes)

Submitted by starfish2019 on Sun, 25/08/2019 - 15:00

What motivates you in your job or studies? In my job, good working environment, good salary, good job nature motivates me a lot to work harder and even to do overtime. Also a job of my hobby and a job is important for my lifetime career is a lot matter for me as well. In my studies, I like the subject, stories, abstracts and thesis are giving me greater knowledge and useful for my life. I also like to achieve higher grades and distinctions in my studies as well, and I believe that is motivating me a lot to study harder to achieve greater results.

Submitted by MOcon on Thu, 27/06/2019 - 09:57

I found the exercises very interesting. They motived me to do more exercises and learn more English.

Submitted by Kyithar on Wed, 05/06/2019 - 15:49

When I create something that is meaniful to me, I will be motivating.

Submitted by Lovelyworld1996 on Mon, 20/05/2019 - 08:45

The audio of the listening is not downloadable. I think there should be a download option for the listening and the tasks so that the people can download them and share with friends.
Hello Lovelyworld1996 Could you please try again? There is no download button, but if you are using a computer, by right-clicking on the audio and then selecting 'Save Audio As' (or something similar), you can download it. How you do that on a touch screen depends on what operating system you have, but it should be possible as well. Please see if you can download it and let us know if you need more help with this. All the best Kirk The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Haiqal Shukri on Sat, 11/05/2019 - 15:26

Task 1 :6/6 Task 2 :5/6

Submitted by Alireza on Fri, 10/05/2019 - 20:33

in my studies i think having a purpose that is big enough to keep me concentrated on it would work for me. Because basically no one gives me reward for more study. So it's just about the purpose.

Submitted by Ely Princess on Thu, 09/05/2019 - 11:23

I have a goal i hope to achieve in life. Everything i do must converge towards achieving that goal. In the beginning, it may look as though the new idea, or information i learn helps to build my personality. But when i sit back and meditate on what i call my 'ultimate goal' or 'life project', I use my latest acquisition to sharpen my project. Little by little, it starts germinating. The feeling is lovely. This is the root of my motivation.