Article word count: 251 words - Approximate time to read: 1 minute
All human behaviour is driven by moving towards pleasure or away from pain.
‘Away-from’ people are motivated to move away from what they DON’T want. ‘Towards’ people are motivated to move towards what they DO want.
Both ‘towards’ and ‘away-from’ individuals may seek the same goal, they are just motivated differently.
How to spot
When someone states, ‘What I don’t want is . . . ’ or ‘I’ll never do that again’, it indicates an ‘away-from’ preference.
If they say, ‘What I want is …’ they are expressing a ‘towards’ motivation.
For example, to encourage a child to brush their teeth properly you might use a moving away motivator such as, to avoid a trip to the dentist; whereas a moving toward motivator is to have healthy, well-maintained teeth.
When communicating with an audience
It’s natural for a person who is themselves ‘away’ motivated to use only ‘away-from’ language in their presentations.
But this may not inspire ‘towards’ motivated individuals, and vice versa.
If you are not aware of this underpinning principle, and are yourself a ‘towards’ personality, you may in fact de-motivate ‘away-from’ people when describing ‘towards’ style goals. Conversely, if you observe you are ‘away-from’, make sure when communicating with towards’ people you tell them what to do, not what to avoid.
Presenters with the power to truly influence communicate with their audience using both ‘away-from’ and ‘towards’ language, to capture the attention of both styles of people.