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.

Transcript

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 …

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Discussion

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Submitted by danielbacelar on Mon, 25/10/2021 - 21:51

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In my work, I am motivated by challenge and autonomy to perform my job.

Submitted by 46adrian46 on Wed, 20/10/2021 - 11:33

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In my case my main motivation is the challenges, for example develop a new brand or enter in company that is trying to open new markets in others countries.

Submitted by RuthYong on Thu, 14/10/2021 - 04:56

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I'd like to share what keeps me motivated is my determination to study and work. Currently, I am studying and working at the same time. I really need a lot of positive energy.On another note to British Council team, the PDF files are not designed for the visually impaired users who use screen reader program. It is difficult for the program to read the table with so many columns and rows. Please look into this matter. Overall, the lessons are great.

Hello RuthYong,

Thanks for your comment. I'm very sorry that you find the PDFs difficult to use with screen readers. We took screen readers into account when we created the PDFs, but if you find them difficult to use we clearly need to do better.

Thanks very much for letting us know!

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Sure, really appreciate the future improvement. Usually with tables, screen readers are not able to read properly.

Submitted by Suraj paliwal on Mon, 11/10/2021 - 14:55

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In my studies, what makes me motivate is always learning. I learn new language. I'm here because I can talk easily with English speaking people.

Submitted by Stela Stoycheva on Wed, 25/08/2021 - 11:14

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In that job which I do it really I don`t fell motivate, even I fell sad... Maybe just the money which I took it. I hope soon I can be the person from before and I can change that situation :)

Submitted by Abrarhussain on Mon, 23/08/2021 - 00:16

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I was motivated to study further English knowledge in order to improve and boost my overall knowledge and communication.

Submitted by GiulianaAndy on Sun, 18/07/2021 - 05:38

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My parents motivate me in my studies. I mean they are always trying to tell me new advices and stuff like that and also my motivation for studying is triggered by the fact that one day I'll be able to travel around the world because of my career

Submitted by In on Sun, 16/05/2021 - 10:39

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I motivate myself when I remember de purpose of why I do what I do.

Submitted by Antoni Luna on Mon, 26/04/2021 - 20:29

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Well, I work as a content creator so when I get a great idea, It motivates me to create this story.

Submitted by Suraj paliwal on Wed, 21/04/2021 - 05:48

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I'm try to be always motivate. In everybody's life someone exist who motivate you always. My parent is always motivate me to do great things in life. I'm happy that my parents supporting me. They give me freedom to do anything which you like. And do different things.

Submitted by German on Wed, 21/04/2021 - 03:35

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I motivate me in my job when I have a challenge about a topic and I motivate me in my studies when I have to research about a topic that interest me.

Submitted by cittàutopica on Mon, 01/03/2021 - 18:51

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In my studies that which motivates me was the assessment of my teachers and the awareness of growing my knowledge, whereas, in my jobs, I was really pleased when I managed a project very well.

Submitted by little_oat on Mon, 15/02/2021 - 12:59

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Both of my parents are teachers and I'm study to become one too. One thing that I've noticed is how limitated the job is, you have to follow a program that is very conservative and desmotivated specially for the kids, we need more freedom in trying new ways of learning and teaching, many people have amazing ways to teach that are effective and creative but most of the times the headmaster doesn't support it.
I totally agree with you that new methods of teaching and learning that allows for freedom of teaching techniques need to be employed by school managers rather than the old ways. Most school managers seems to be autocratic and conservative. Teacher's effectiveness and efficiency would be increased if they have the freedom to adopt whatever style or method they feel comfortable with to achieve the best results. Though they need to be checked too.

Submitted by mohamad90 on Fri, 12/02/2021 - 10:15

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I totally agree with this theory. I experienced that freedom in working is the best way for efficiency and effectiveness. But many managers still don't encourage staff with this new ideas. They work with old management theories. It proves that learning new management theories is necessary, specially for complex works.

Submitted by El Cuy Mágico on Fri, 29/01/2021 - 21:22

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So cool to read the comments !! I totally agree. I don't like a strict schedule either, I really like to enjoy my job. I prefer to work at my pace as I feel more comfortable and things are done better. I guess my really motivation is the love for what I am studding as I like the culture of my country and I would love to help in its conservation and promotion. Of course there are days I don't feel motived though, then I must resort to my discipline more than my motivation.

Submitted by Layria on Sun, 10/01/2021 - 20:02

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A thing that really motivates me is the passion of studying something I really love learning such art an culture. I agree with SAAD that knowledge is power because the more you know the more creative you will become. You can find a source of inspiration by reading, or listening... to get your goals or to excel in something you really want to. In my current job I find really motivating have a flexible schedule and not seeing my boss everytime like in the same office : ).

Submitted by Diogo1606 on Wed, 06/01/2021 - 02:56

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What motivate me in my studies is to know that if I keep working hard now, I'll be able to be where I want to be in the future, and even the things aren't easy now, in 10 years from now on, I'll look back and thank me for the hard work.

Submitted by Saad786 on Sat, 02/01/2021 - 10:12

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I am motivated during the studies when my teacher or parents point out my mistake. When I am encouraged by my parents, I become more ambitious to achieve the goal. My goal is to learn more and more through out my life because KNOWLEDGE IS POWER.

Submitted by M19 on Wed, 30/12/2020 - 19:49

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Personally, I have observed experiences where salary increments and promotions contributed to the resignation of employees; they aren't necessarily motivators. More money is offered for getting the job done! The fact that task achievement but social life counts, most employers often take for granted small but precious valuable things like love, friendship, gratitude and respect. In the office these things seem less important and oftentimes use of obscene language becomes a habit. Acquiring respect doesn't come easily and falling a victim of verbal abuse is usually the end result. The assumption that materialistic incentives are effective motivators is totally wrong. Earning respect feels to be more of a valuable incentives for me than anything else. It's the thing that keeps me on my job.

Submitted by mrhgo on Sun, 13/12/2020 - 18:05

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Hey everyone! I think that motivation is something created inside you which exists at different times. I mean, you can't be constantly motivated. I notice that there are not actually different kind of motivation, maybe there are factors that inspired you to feel more motivated, as the salary or nice people to work with.

Submitted by DJ Singh on Thu, 26/11/2020 - 09:48

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I used to be a visual effect Artist. one particular shot has so much to do in it because of that some time It could even take months to complete the 2second shot. But I needed to motivate myself by self-talking like maybe you are not able to see the end result now but wait for the movie to release and watch your work in cinema. That feeling was always made motivated me to do what I was doing. But unfortunately not anymore I have quit my job now to move ahead in life.

Submitted by Asni on Tue, 24/11/2020 - 23:22

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I have never been interested or motivated by rewards or any kind of material incentives. Instead, I feel delighted when people give recognition for my work, admire and respect what I perform. Also, I strongly dislike rigid and strict rules, I feel more creative and with great positive energy when I'm given some freedom and flexibility.
Recognition and admiration are also its kinds of reward Asni. You're getting something out of what you're putting your energy in. I agree it's difficult to work in such conditions like strictness, people feel less creative in these kinds of circumstances.

Submitted by carlos 2947 on Mon, 26/10/2020 - 18:09

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Hello everyone, after listening to the audio and meditating on the concepts and studies that are exposed in them, I would like to make you participate in two ideas: In my personal experience at work, the spirit of improvement has motivated me more than the economic incentive. On a professional level, I have been responsible for technical teams where the economic incentive was the idea of some but not all, individual economic needs always have the last word. I have observed that when the group of workers forms a team with a clear and fixed idea, the proposed objectives are achieved, either to earn more money or to improve processes

Submitted by danisep on Sat, 24/10/2020 - 15:37

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At this moment in my life, money is very important to me so I would be a lot motivated if my boss put some economic incentives for achievement in my job, but I'm really motivated for independence knowing that I can support myself, take my own decisions. buy my own stuff and save money to reach what I want, without taking a fee from my parents and let them spend their money only on them.

Submitted by Echo1 on Sat, 24/10/2020 - 08:54

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I do not actually know how to answer this question because I am quite struggling on how to keep motivated in my current job. At first, I really enjoyed being a teacher. Seeing my students go out of the room with newly acquired knowledge on my subject really feels satisfying. But that is not my problem. It is actually the work environment and the toxic people around me in that workplace. This caused me to think about quitting and getting a new job or enrolling to grad school. However, I cannot quit as of the moment and get a new job because this pandemic makes it hard to find one. So I just keep on thinking that I am doing this for the kids and for my country. Sometimes, the money also keep me motivated because I get paid relatively higher than other public school teachers.

Submitted by Radias on Thu, 22/10/2020 - 12:39

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Being surrounded by positive and warm people is the most significant matter that motivated me not to mentioned how much the salary is

Submitted by Ugulhan on Thu, 22/10/2020 - 07:30

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That is a good question, even being here for learning a language we will expect a good comment or feedback of tutor, it could be an appealing evaluation of tutor for students. I think that an incentive can give everyone a lot of motivation to do something. Even If I hear a good word, such as you are doing well this, and I'd inspire by this word.

Submitted by Denise on Thu, 08/10/2020 - 09:19

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The fact of being “ independent” it’s what motivates me in my job,as I’m 21 years old living abroad with no parents.

Submitted by AMOUGOU Abega … on Wed, 07/10/2020 - 11:45

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my motivation in my daily work is when i get better result, but also when my value is recognised.

Submitted by Hennadii on Thu, 03/09/2020 - 13:24

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I think there are many kinds of motivation. Some of them are material but some are not. You can be motivated by bonus (extra money to your salary at the end of the project if the thing will go well) or promotion (once again we're talking about money - the bigger salary). But, you can be motivated not only by money but by fame or respect as well. It's good to know you're the best employee in your company or to see your photo on the honour board. Of course, money is money and everybody wants to earn more but it's only one side. People also want to leave a mark in history, to be respected and recognized. It's a good motivation in many fields (sports, culture, science). Definitely, money plus fame is the best combination ever but sometimes we have to make an important choice between bread and glory. And bread doesn't always win, you know. So, I totally agree with the main idea of this topic - money and promotion aren't the only way to motivate people nowadays. And many different kinds of research prove that statement.

Submitted by Ramazan Altınışık on Wed, 02/09/2020 - 15:39

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My motivation goes up when I achieve my goals especially when I success in an exam then I am so motivated to study.

Submitted by macevedosalas on Wed, 26/08/2020 - 16:03

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I guess the most important idea related with the motivation is to love what you do... if you like your job you will do an excellent job , to give people rewards is not necessary for achieving goals in the company.

Submitted by Gelashvili Nika on Tue, 25/08/2020 - 14:37

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Hi everyone Well, my biggest motivation is self-development. In this case I learn English myself to become magistrate at exact and natural science. I am Geographer and my dream is to work in National Geographic as a saints, write interesting article about nature, environment people, culture and tradition and help using my job whole world. All those lessens helps me moving forward to my dream and I would like to say thanks all Learn English team for support.

Submitted by fahri on Wed, 05/08/2020 - 12:06

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Dear team. From the lesson above. he offered no incentive, but he told them he was going to use their times to calculate an average time. What's that mean 'use their times to calculate an average time' ??? Is that mean they free to go or not to go to the office for work? The most important thing is the job finished?? Thank you very much for your answer and attention.

Hello fahri,

The people were timed (entry 2.2: to measure how long it takes someone to do something) as they solved a problem. The resulting numbers were the people's 'times'. If you have several numbers, you can add them all together and then divide by the number of numbers ('to average') to get the average (entry 2.2).

The people who did this did not win anything ('no incentive').

Hope this helps.

All the best,

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by kbravoz on Wed, 22/07/2020 - 14:29

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One of the easiest listenings I've had. But about the question, unfortunately due to the easy access to information people tend to read just headlines and not the whole idea as well as following instructions. Doing things quickly and fast is a goal that doesn't need to be rewarded, depends on us.

Submitted by Ping Wen on Wed, 22/07/2020 - 10:03

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When I'm interested in this task, I will be motivated automatically.

Submitted by nabily on Fri, 10/07/2020 - 14:56

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What motivate me is that when i got what i planned for done successfully. in that case it give me motivation to achieve something new.

Submitted by nabily on Fri, 10/07/2020 - 14:34

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Hi I have finished the intermediate level and it was easy for me . Now , in this level i could get only 5 out 8 correct. I understand most of what the conversation but when it come to answer the exercises i found it a little bit difficult. Any advice and recommendations

Submitted by Kirk on Fri, 10/07/2020 - 15:08

In reply to by nabily

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Hello nabily

I wouldn't worry -- some things within B2 are closer to B1 and some are closer to C1. The main thing is to keep working and to learn from your mistakes. In this way, you will advance for sure!

All the best

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by wahbi baklouti on Thu, 09/07/2020 - 19:17

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what motivated me, in general, is to remember the goal I set it. when I give up and start to procrastinate I remember the goal that gives me the energy to keep going and work whatever happens

Submitted by Hai994 on Sat, 13/06/2020 - 02:39

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Improving my self is the most important motive for me because in this life we always facing difficulties and I need to prepare my self for it.

Submitted by nona nasr on Thu, 11/06/2020 - 00:06

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Actually my goals motivate me in most cases , when I want to reach specific achievements like learning English to have a good job ,I work hard without any incentive from anyone , I can get motivated also when I’m interested in what I’m doing and also I’m agree to that having enough time to get tasks done without stress makes me more creative, good and especial results makes me proud regardless any incentive

Submitted by Wen_Koala on Sat, 30/05/2020 - 01:09

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What I like the most is to be included into complex projects where I can get some new and fresh ideas or where I can develop my management skills. If I have the chance to select the members of my team and organise the schedules when we are going to be connected, I will be absolutely engaged.