My marketing professor in business school bequeathed the following upon us, and I have since operated based on it, much to my benefit (including in business!):

There are two ways to have people do things:

1.Motivate them
2.Remove the barriers


Well, people are already motivated and you can’t do much about that.

The key is to remove the barriers that cause them not to do it.


People’s basic motivations are pretty much built in and pre-determined.  The problem, of course, is to see what the person associates with those motivations - i.e. what does the person think will give them that toward which they are motivated to get. 

For instance, we all want to be happier.  So, we’ve got to see if a person thinks that a particular type of growth program is an effective means to that.  If he doesn’t think that, it is our job to clarify that – i.e. to remove the barrier of lack of understanding.

The person may have all sorts of misbeliefs around what will make them uncomfortable and how they must act to relieve the discomfort.  This is a barrier if it conflicts with the desired behavior and end result. 

The end results of getting an exercise program into regular use of course would be health and more energy and feeling better.  Those are motivations.  But avoiding the discomfort of having to get up off the couch and go exert effort may be a contrary, opposing motivation.  (This is an opposing force, which has an effect of cancelling energy toward the opposite.  This is essential to understand.  It is discussed in Contra-Energy - Stop Cancelling Energy.)

Interestingly enough the barrier of lack of understanding is related to people’s fears of being taken, of being stupid, of not getting enough out of something.  If a person can’t see the benefit of something that is also a barrier to having the person do what you think the person should best do.  If the person can’t see that you (or your company) have the ability and can be trusted to deliver the product, that’s a barrier (lack of credibility).


So, your mission, should you decide to accept it, is:

To discover the relevant basic motivation(s) and then remove all the barriers stopping the activation of the motivation.

Identify the barriers

To accomplish the mission above, naturally we have to identify the possible barriers and then remove (or have the means already available to remove) the barriers.

Generally the barriers are:

I.  Lack of clarity on the safety to move forward.
     A.   Address all the barriers and objections – list them all and provide answers ahead,
           don’t wait for them to come up with them as they may be gone by then or so
           decided already!
     B.   Address all that must be understood to move forward.
                 See the sections that follow.
     C.   Not wanting to be taken or at risk
                 Always provide a means of guarantee or escape, without confrontation or a lot
                 of effort.       

II.  Lack of clarity on the benefit

     A.  Must be explained, written out clearly and specifically
     B.  How great is the benefit versus the cost (Such as:  This improvement in your ability to
         deal with life will not only solve your present concern but it will be useful over and over
         in life.  How much is that peace of mind worth?  Its priceless.
     C.  Must be kept present and seeable, as we tend to not see and/or to discount what is in
         the future.   So, keepingimmediately available a list of the benefits and your
         commitment is essential, at least until you've totally memorized the benefits and can
         keep them "top of the mind" and available. (Bathroom mirror, by bedside, in journal or

III.  Lack of clarity on the benefit being deliverable

      A.  How is the benefit derived, what is the process?
                Any proof?
      B.  Is the company or product capable of delivering the benefit?

IV.  Lack of clarity that you can deliver that benefit

      A. What is your credibility (indications of your capability)
                If you don’t have it, will the product itself deliver the benefit?
      B.  Lack of rapport with you puts doubt on whether want to work with you

V.   Actual "physical" or "effort" barriers

     A. Reduce the effort and/or get rid of whatever is in the way.
         (Example:  time to change clothes, get to the gym, too hard of a workout; solve
         by buying a home, foldable treadmill, keeping it available in TV room or read a book,
         having a set time in the schedule, that is workable for consistency, and other ways to
         make it easier and more regular; see Making Exercise Easy And Enjoyable, Besides
         Getting The Benefits.)
     B. Reduce the discomfort or emotional barrier. 
         (Example:  Do a less rigorous workout; read a book, so you're not bored; just start for 5
         easy minutes and decide whether or not to continue after that...)


Address all these barriers and you will have an extraordinarily favorable experience.
In my advisory practice, I always did my best to remove the barrier of lack of understanding and lack of credibility, so people felt safe to go forward and were clear on the benefit and its achievability.  Almost every person exploring having a business relationship with me chose to proceed – and the process was easy, for both them and for me.  Trust was created and maintained such that the relationships were also very long term.

Try the process.  You might like it AND find that it will transform your success, whether it is in personal relationships or in business relationships.


I used the awkward phrasing of "having people do something" instead of "getting people to do what you want" because I wanted to avoid a common trap.  The trap lies in the illusion that you can sufficiently control another person to make them do what you want.  Operating in life like that will have a huge cost and alot of frustration.  (See the discussion: Control - Its Proper Use:  Stop The Waste, Increase Power.)

All you can actually do is make requests and give information that may influence the choice of the other person.  You certainly cannot expect the other person to do what you think is best and it does no good to complain about how stupid, unintelligent, or slothful the other person is because he/she doesn't make the "right" choice.  (See Making Requests Of Your Partner, which actually applies to any relationship.)