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I recently gave some training to personal trainers on finding people's motivators. It was a fascinating and interesting day. I learnt a lot and believe, from feedback, so did they.

You see people take action based on their motivators. Motivators stem from our values and beliefs.

Today I thought I would look at weight loss as a typical example of this.

Many people want to lose weight, start a programme, go to the gym and then stop or   go back to old habits.

Why is this and how can communication help overcome this?

I am going to use an example to demonstrate why finding out your, or a clients motivators are so important at the beginning of a change process.

Talking to the PTs, it was clear to me there were some communication changes to be made and times when honest conversation would help.

Picture the scene - a lady walks into the gym. She hasn't trained for sometime, used to be fit, family life and work got in the way and there wasn't time left for training.

As a consequence of eating more calories than she was burning she put on weight.

She doesn't like to look in the mirror at herself naked and wears baggy jumpers to hide her size. 

She decides to change. Why?

There are many reasons people decide to change. Often there is a dual conversation going on in their head whilst a decision is made. Perhaps along these lines:

Voice 1 - These jeans are tight. Gosh I need to lose some weight.

Voice 2 - Right let's do that then, no more excuses.

Voice 1 - Oh but there isn't time and it's not that bad, diets mean no fun and spending hours in the gym.

Voice 2 - They don't have too, we could eat healthy, follow a plan, buy a step counter, that would be a start.

And so on until a decision is made. Notice the word need.

When we use the word need it generally means we are living into someone else's value. Perhaps society has ingrained into you how you should look. Maybe you have read an article which has made you think you need to lose weight.

The thing is until you turn your need into a want and match it with what you actually desire then it's likely you won't follow through.

Establishing your actual motivator can be found by asking yourself some questions and reflecting back on what you have said. It is easier to do this with a coach or another person. You can do it yourself, asking questions and perhaps writing the answer down to gain some clarity.

Questions to ask yourself or a client might be the following:

You say you need to lose weight, what do you want to do?

I want to get into my jeans.

So you are struggling to get into your jeans?


What is it about being able to get into your jeans that has bought you to the gym?

You could get any answer here and it's the answer which will give you the next clue to the motivator.

I want to get into my jeans because when they are tight I look awful in them and I will have to wear a baggy jumper to cover my stomach overhanging the top.

Mmmm, now we have more clues - by the way this is how I feel so these would be my answers. Think of your own answers to these question to get your motivators.

What exactly is it about having to wear a baggy jumper that makes you want to change now?

I hate myself for looking like this, for allowing myself to get like this. I want my kids to be proud of their mum and to wear nice clothes and look good.

Again lots more information we can now reflect back to ourselves and our client.

So you need to get into your jeans because you want your kids to be proud of how you look and you want to feel good about yourself and not dress in baggy clothes. You feel frustrated and blame yourself for putting some weight on?

You or your client will either agree or tell you what you got wrong.

We now have some motivators to work towards and some goals to set. We can align our/clients motivators with their goals to keep the momentum.

There are more layers to go through and  generally 3-7 questions will get you towards the motivators and listening to the answers.

We have touched the surface of the actual wants by asking some relevant questions, listening to the answers and reflecting back what we hear.

We also now have lots of other avenues to explore as well.

Often we make assumptions based on our beliefs. Perhaps you will make a judgement based on what a person looks like. You might even start solving the problem for them using words like:

"This is what you need to do.......".

Again these phrases are based on what we think and what our values and beliefs are.

I have negotiated with people, been lucky enough to teach hundreds of students across the world and listened to thousands of conversations. One of the biggest lessons I personally have learnt is we all have a story.

Everyone's story is different, filled with emotion, driven by values and beliefs. 

Our conversations are led by all of these, listening, clarifying and reflection will keep us off our own agenda and on the other persons.

We problem solve based on what we believe to be true, with our brain filling in the gaps based on our experience.

Listen rather than problem solve, find the motivators and help people to use their own values and beliefs systems to make the change. 

Please share and like if you have found this useful.


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