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 …

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Submitted by joelharrris on Tue, 19/05/2020 - 01:19

it is often deplorable when you have to work twice as much as the others to be up to the task but it should not weaken us

Submitted by ragamin on Sun, 17/05/2020 - 14:43

is it a real speech ???if so , how can i get the full version ??? any help is appreciated

Hello ragamin,

We use material from a range of sources on LearnEnglish but I think this text was prepared by the British Council specially for this lesson, so it doesn't have a full version. I'm glad you found it interesting, though!



The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Janiere on Tue, 12/05/2020 - 19:17

Unfortunately, in my job, the only incentive is to receive the profits participation of company. Well. As we work with sells, I think the results would be biggest, if my company created some extra incentive for those who sells more.
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Submitted by vanenglish on Thu, 07/05/2020 - 03:38

Hi, in my case, as the speaker said, I am motivated when I feel that my company treat me like a person who has a life outside. Also if I enjoy my work it is much better.
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Submitted by OlaIELTS on Mon, 04/05/2020 - 22:56

A determination to succeed motivates me in my endeavours.

Submitted by jazmin marquez on Wed, 22/04/2020 - 00:32

Well, I can motivate in my work or in my studies when I achieve the objectives that I set. It is very important for me not to work under pressure all the time, and to have time for other activities like playing sports and spending time with my family. Finally, a good relationship with my teachers or my boss is essential

Submitted by James12345 on Thu, 16/04/2020 - 11:29

Generally, this question might be considering in two different ways. First part of one refers to my professional work. In my job, I have been rated by patients through several factors that's why the biggest incentive to pursue my career is smile on their lips after fixing the tooth. They pay special attention to taking a dental appointment without the pain. Either injection of anesthesia or treating the teeth should be making completely painlessly. If I can see a glad patient after visit, they will come again to fix their tooth. It means they have been relaxing during my work. Second part of this question is related with my studies. I have degree of dentistry, but I decided to continue my education in other field, history. Reason of this study haven't connected with earn for living. That's why the remarks aren't the most important issue as a incentive. I have always wanted to have deep knowledge in various areas of life. To be honest, get high self-esteem and self-confidece motivate me to study. Therefore, I think it isn't last word in my education.

Submitted by yoyoraw on Fri, 10/04/2020 - 12:56

Thinking about my future dreams of being successful in life motivates me to keep studying harder to achieve those dreams .

Submitted by huyentran on Fri, 03/04/2020 - 10:02

the thing that motivates me to study that if i hard study now i can easy find a good job in the future and earn much money more easier.