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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Profile picture for user Libra23

Submitted by Libra23 on Sat, 25/05/2024 - 11:58


The motivation is always fundamental to achieve a wanted result. Without that, maybe the difficult to realise an aim increases. Actually, I try to motive myself in the English learning process, because I know that it’s a long term process and I can’t think to obtain the C1 Level by a month. 

In the past, during my university life, I had to motivate myself every single day, because a law degree course last at least 5 years, so 5 years are a very long period if you reflect on that. 

I share this link taken from a TED Talk because I’m sure about its utility to motivate English (or others languages) students like me. https://www.ted.com/talks/lydia_machova_the_secrets_of_learning_a_new_language?utm_campaign=tedspread&utm_medium=referral&utm_source=tedcomshare

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Submitted by alessandro.it on Tue, 20/02/2024 - 11:18


What motivates me in my studies at university, as well when I was at the High school, is both to learn a new subject very well and to show to my teacher I reach this goal by getting a good mark in the exam. In addition to that, I like to explain to others what I learnt with simple words so it is easy to understand what could seem complex at the first impact, like for instance a mathematical topic. In fact, a famous Albert Einstein's quote says that if you aren't able to explain something in a simple way, it means you haven't understood well!

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Submitted by Serenity on Tue, 30/01/2024 - 19:08


Thank you for the lesson. My motivations are so many. But the most important of them is to talk with fluency, understand and specially communicate perfectly.

Submitted by iepenarandao96 on Sun, 21/01/2024 - 02:26


at the moment what motivates me is the possibility to travel abroad or start a new life in a better country. Also the possibility to earn more money is my main reason to keep studying or learning things related to my job.

Submitted by Sana Kohistani on Tue, 02/01/2024 - 19:15


In my case, it's the opposite. I find that my motivation is boosted when I anticipate receiving a reward, which leads me to perform my tasks with greater efficiency. Similarly, when others recognize and appreciate my efforts, it not only demonstrates their value for me but also serves as an inspiration to continuously improve.

Submitted by Baha1971 on Mon, 01/01/2024 - 04:42


I agree with here the idea of giving the people the freedom about when and how to do thier tasks will motivate them more than rewards

Profile picture for user noura-elkhwanky

Submitted by noura-elkhwanky on Fri, 15/12/2023 - 20:21


Vividly I suppose rewards are vital to motivate someone to do something .actually for me when I achieve some of my aims I reward my self like a motivation to continue . Likewise it works with kids to incentive them to be creative.of course some of freedom required however under control.

Submitted by amroelwan.com on Tue, 05/12/2023 - 16:41


For me I always try to do my best that's how I have four certificates I always work hard and give time for playing and studying

Submitted by zra700 on Wed, 18/10/2023 - 05:53


for me: at first I write to do list and when I checked them!
so it encourages me to work them:)

I would probably say that crucial part of being motivated to work is just to try to make your best and don't depend on what are people thinking about you, and reach the high