Motivating Your Team – Towards and Away From Motivation

When learning about motivation one of the first lessons you will learn is about “Towards or Away From” Motivation, also known as “Pain or Pleasure” Motivation.

This article will help you understand why people are motivated by Towards or Away From language, how to know who is motivated by which motivation preference and which language you can use to motivate both Towards and Away From Motivated People. 

NLP-Meta Model

NLP is the study of excellence, one part of NLP is the Meta Model (this helps us understand how people input, sort and filter information) The Meta Model has helped us learn how language has different effects on different people.  As you may be motivated by the Carrot, others are motivated by the Stick.


If you could know which language would motivate your team would you want to learn it? Helping your team achieve all of its goals, moving towards a successful year with a new positive team, knowing each year would bring in better results, is this something you could use to benefit future team moral?

If you could speak to your team, knowing the language that would stop your team from being unmotivated, reducing common errors and to stop the team from wasting time. Would this knowledge move you away from poor results?

It’s not about who is motivated by what language, as we are all individuals, it’s about how you can use language to motivate your team, if you new how to motivate your team, what would you different when you returned to work on Monday morning?

How to know who is motivated by what language?

Ask your staff members “What’s important to you in work?”

They will often give you a list of criteria, example: Training, Reviews, Good Atmosphere, Big Wage, My Own Desk, etc

Secondly ask “why is Criteria important to you?” what ever answer they give, ask “why is this new criteria important to you?”

Listen to their answer: do they use Towards or Away From Language?

Example from a Social Worker Review:


Manager “what is important to you in work?”

Staff“erm, I need to know that I am helping other people”

Manager “why is helping other people important?”

Staff “Because I want people to move forward with their lives, to have a good future

Manager “why is helping people move forward with their lives important to you?”

Staff “I want to feel that I have helped people to achieve something with their lives”


You have already stared to notice the thousands of ways you can use language to motivate your own team.

TOWARD MOTIVATION                                              

To motivate people who are Towards motivated use words, such as:

  • Attain
  • Gain
  • Achieve
  • Get
  • Include
  • Towards
  • Can’t wait to get there
  • Accomplish
  • Reward
  • End Result
  • Goals

Towards people are motivated to achieve or attain goals. They have trouble recognizing problems. They are good at managing priorities


To motivate people who are Away From motivated use words such as;

  • Avoid
  • Exclude
  • Recognize
  • Problem
  • Don’t like…
  • Trouble Shooting
  • Fix
  • Steer Clear of
  • Prevent
  • Solve
  • Fix
  • Prohibit

Away From people focus on what may be and is going wrong. They are motivated to solve problems and have trouble keeping focused on goals



A little goes a long way; as you read this article, many of you will be thinking do words really make a difference? They do and more importantly, words motivate people. As with many good techniques, you will agree you will need to practice, re-read this article and practice listening to your friends and colleagues language, you can probably already start noticing who is Towards or Away from motivated.

Once you recognise their motivational pattern, talk “using their language” and look for the difference your language is making; do they respond to you differently? Are they listening to your ideas and suggestions? To increase your awareness of motivational patterns, you can apply for a motivational training course to learn all aspects of motivational language to Motivate the Unmotivated.

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