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 (92 votes)

Submitted by Artyev on Fri, 19/05/2023 - 23:45


The biggest incentive for me is understanding when I will achieve all my goals which I need to succeed, I could buy anything what I want and live only for my our satisfaction, don't worry about daily duties.

Submitted by I.es91 on Tue, 02/05/2023 - 00:41


In this course, I decide to take it serious by make a schedule for studying, write down what I will study in each day and mark the day when I finished the lessons. This procedure motivates me to keep focus on my planning.

Submitted by Piiilaria on Thu, 27/04/2023 - 10:17


Honestly, I don`t understand what can motivate me well because I always demotivated by my boss((.But, telling the truth, when you can choose how to work and when to work it influenses well on my mood. And if you understand how many importance your work brings, it can be a better motivation too.

Submitted by Sliang on Wed, 26/04/2023 - 09:23


In my job, external incentives such as salary and promotion certainly motivate me to work hard, but the sense of accomplishment and fulfillment I get from achieving my goals is also a significant psychological motivator. As for my studies, my personal desire for knowledge and self-improvement is the primary driving force, but I must admit that the prospect of rewards, such as a scholarship or a favorite leisure activity, can also be very appealing and motivating.

Submitted by wisdom1979 on Mon, 17/04/2023 - 19:15


this record was so informative for me and i am to use this excellent experiments in my occupation as a teacher.incentives usually are useful and helpful in work progress procedure but I think what is the more importance than incentives is that a boss or a manager or a chief should be knowledgeable about arrangement of her human resources ,it means that everyone should be on right position and does task that is able on. It makes any workplace progressive and needs to much less incentives because everyone does what he/her would like and it is best motive literally.

Submitted by Mohammed_RHANNAM on Wed, 22/03/2023 - 16:11


To be honest with you, passion is my intrinsic motor that drives me to work and produce tirelessly.

Submitted by Sanja on Mon, 13/02/2023 - 07:13


An incentive is necessary when people do simple or repetitive jobs. But, even on those tasks, workers like to feel important and worth.

I agree with your take on incentive does matter and gets results. The fundamental point which you have made about a worker's self-respect, importance, and being worthy is twice more important than a mere incentive.

Submitted by shinegldn on Sat, 04/02/2023 - 14:02


Pleasure & Passion motivate me to learn English 🥰

Submitted by cesarjyanezp on Mon, 30/01/2023 - 04:30


I think that nothing is more motivating that the desire of superation