In one of my very early blogs, I discussed the book, Beyond Reason by Daniel Shapiro and Roger Fisher. In it, they discuss five ways or core concerns to overcome emotions when negotiating. One of them is “appreciation: express appreciation of and to your adversary”. (The others are affiliation, autonomy, status and role.) Each one of us loves to feel appreciated and showing it to others, does wonders in getting issues resolved.

I mention this because recently my colleague Maria Simpson, Ph. D in her Two Minute Training: Communications Tips for November 15, 2011 showed how appreciation of others works as a great motivator to get people to do things. She explains it so delightfully in terms of The Wizard of Oz (by L. Frank Baum), that I can only do it justice by quoting verbatim:

If I Only Had a Brain

“The dilemma over motivation and rewards never ends. Most of us agree that using carrots instead of sticks works better at encouraging people to do their best, but we don’t all agree on what those carrots should be. Sometimes we are limited by the organization’s policies or resources, and sometimes by our own lack of understanding of what people need to be motivated and feel rewarded.”

“Ultimately, giving each person more of what matters to that person is the best motivator. Yes, money works, but after a while, even money doesn’t trump disrespect or lack of opportunity or lack of value in the work. People need more than money.”

“This isn’t a new idea. L. Frank Baum gave us the perfect example long ago in The Wizard of Oz. Each character talks – or rather sings – about a very basic need, and Baum was a genius for demonstrating how to reward and fulfill those needs.”

“Throughout the film Scarecrow sings about how much better his life would be “if I only had a brain.” He’d think great thoughts, he could solve puzzles. “I would not be just a nothin’ my head all full of stuffin’/ My heart all full of pain./ I would dance and be merry, life would be ding-a-derry/ if I only had a brain.” Scarecrow wants to be happy and he believes that if he were smarter, he would be happier because of the great ideas he would have and could talk about with others.”

“Tin Man desperately wants to be more human, to feel human emotion, and he thinks that would be possible if he had a heart. He thinks of himself as “an empty kettle” and says “. . . I’m torn apart./ . . I’m presumin’ that I could be kind-a-human/if I only had a heart. . .” He wants “Just to register emotion . . . and really feel the part.” We all long to connect with others and feel those emotions.”

“The Cowardly Lion wants to be brave like all the other lions, ” . . . I could show my prowess, be a lion not a mou-esse/If I only had the nerve.” Or “noive,” as he pronounces it.”

“And Dorothy just wants to go home, to be back with her family and the people who love her.”

“There are two lessons here about very basic needs and how to fulfill them. First, all of the characters already have the qualities they wanted; they simply didn’t recognize them in themselves, so helping them gain that recognition is the best reward they can receive and can change lives. Scarecrow thinks of clever ways out of difficulties. Tin Man feels emotions as he cries when they all first meet, almost getting rusty again. The Cowardly Lion was brave when it mattered; he overcame his fear and saved the people he cared about.”

Second, the characters didn’t think they had the qualities they wanted because they didn’t have the symbols of those qualities. Having symbols that are recognized by others goes a long way to convincing us that we really do have the traits we most desire. Remember Sally Field and her Oscar speech for “Norma Rae?” “You like me. You really like me.” She wasn’t sure before that moment that her peers liked her or her work, but that award made their affection real.

“The Wizard gives these characters those symbols, and maybe that was his real magic – making them believe in themselves. Want a heart so that you can feel emotion and be sentimental? Well, how do we know someone has a heart? They get awards, of course. The Wizard gives the Tin Man an award for being a philanthropist because philanthropists have generous hearts. To prove that the Cowardly Lion has “the noive,” the Lion is awarded a medal because bravery earns medals. And what do people with brains have? Why, academic degrees, of course. So Scarecrow gets a degree and begins to spout geometry.”

. . .

“When you think about how to reward someone, consider something that matches an identity need for affiliation, competence, purpose or autonomy. The Tin Man’s need for affiliation can now be met because he can connect with people through his heart. Scarecrow is competent because he has a degree that says he is. The Lion is brave and has the medal to prove it; he can fulfill his purpose of being king of the jungle. And Dorothy is autonomous. She can go home whenever she wants to.”

. . .

“Whether you give someone a plaque, or public recognition, or make someone feel part of the group, or acknowledge an odd idea from someone, you are demonstrating a clear understanding of what is important and helping that person to feel recognized and valued. And isn’t that what motivation is all about anyway?”

Acknowledgment. . . . it goes a long way! In fact, it just may be “priceless”!

. . .Just something to think about!

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