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When you are dealing with a lack of motivation, it seems like everyone is giving you advice on how to solve it.

However, new research shows that people are more inclined to deal with feeling unmotivated, or other problems based on mentality, when they give someone else advice on how to solve the same problem. For IT managers, this finding suggests that the best way to help motivate your team in stressful times is to simply ask each team member for advice on how to solve your own motivation issues.

The new study was based on the idea that people don’t change bad habits or get out of a funk due to a lack of information. For instance, a smoker doesn’t stop smoking cigarettes because they  doesn’t know cigarettes are bad for you.

Instead, the issue generally comes down to confidence. For some reason, these people don’t think they’ll succeed in addressing their problem, so they never take the first step. When they get advice, the advice they receive often doesn’t give them the confidence to find a solution. The researchers wondered, what if they were asked for advice instead?

Studying the effect of giving advice

In the study, researchers from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School and the University of Chicago worked with people who were struggling with habitual or motivational issues. The study team found study participants who gave out advice to others on the issue they were struggling with were much more likely to address their own problem than if they were given advice from an authoritative source.

The study team discovered that 72 percent of people finding it difficult to save money said advising others on the subject inspired them to save money more than getting advice from experts. The researchers also found 77 percent of adults battling with anger management issues said they were more inspired to manage their temper after giving advice than they were after hearing from professional psychologists. Furthermore, 72 percent of adults struggling with weight issues said giving advice made them more confident about losing weight than getting advice from a nutritionist at the renowned Mayo Clinic.

The take-home

For company leaders, these findings can be quite instructive. Regardless of what challenges your team members are facing, including a lack of motivation, this study indicated that imagining someone else with comparable problems and trying to find solutions for them will do more for their own challenges than even the best advice or pep talk.

This isn’t the first study to show that looking at your issues as if they were someone else’s is an effective approach to overcome mental roadblocks. A previous study found that people also make wiser choices when they imagine giving advice to another person with the same dilemmas.

At Software Specialists, we help company leaders address their various challenges through custom service and talent solutions. Please contact us today to find out how we can support your success and that of your organization.


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