Inspired by Language

Read Bob and Anne’s column in the McHenry Business Journal

From The McHenry Business Journal –

Different people inspired by different language
– Anne Ward and Bob Sandidge

“The function of leadership is to produce more leaders, not more followers.” – Ralph Nader

Success in business and life is dependent on many factors. “Timing,” they say, “is everything.” “The early bird gets the worm.” Our personal favorite is, “You must be present to win.”

No, this is not about a contest, although there is a prize. The prize is an understanding of key differences in motivational strategies. That’s right. We’re going to talk about motivation. Talking about motivation is well, uh, sort of de-motivating for some. For others, talking about motivation is truly motivating. Why is that?

It is important that we know how to motivate ourselves and, as managers and leaders, how to motivate others. As marketing and salespeople, we need to motivate customers to come to our businesses to buy our products and services. Successful marketers need to know a lot about motivation.

In 1981 Rodger Bailey, a Canadian researcher, developed an assessment tool called the Language and Behavior Profile. Bailey found that, regardless of how people answered his well-designed questions, their un-conscious personality patterns were revealed in the structure of the language they used. By paying attention to how a person answered, instead of what they said, he could determine what triggered and maintained a person’s motivation. Further, once they got the pattern, they could craft a message using language that had maximum impact for that person.

Recall a situation where someone speaking another language was attempting to get an idea across to you. It’s likely you attempted to make sense of what they said by translating it into words that you understood. When you hear words or terms that you immediately understand, you don’t have to do the internal translation. You just get it. You and your communication partner are “speaking the same language.”

What did Bailey’s research turn up that could help us to be better marketers, managers, leaders and salespeople? Simply that people have different motivational strategies. It turns out the carrot only works for about 40 percent of us. That is, 40 percent of us are motivated toward what we want. Approximately 40 percent of us are motivated by an “away from” strategy. They put their attention on what they don’t want, and then move away from it. Finally, about 20 percent of us are motivated by both “toward” and “away-from” strategies.

Let’s say that your role is selling, leading, or managing in your company. What is your motivation strategy? Many of us in these roles will be biased in the “toward” direction. We like to “go for it.” The problem comes when we behave as if everyone around us is also motivated by a “toward” strategy.

Those motivated by “toward” language are more likely to respond to words such as: attain, obtain, have, get, include, and achieve. Those with an “away from” strategy will most likely find avoid, steer clear of, not have, get rid of, exclude, away from more compelling language.

Consider how important this is when writing copy for advertising, brochures, Web site, billboards, and other media. Are your customers motivated more “toward” or “away from”?

By the way, this is only one of 13 motivational patterns that emerged from Bailey’s research. You can find the other 12 at

Anne Ward and Bob Sandidge, owners of Creative-Core Inc. in Algonquin are marketing and media consultants. They can be reached by e-mail at