how to motivate others
This is a Guest Post by Bob Burg who has been a massive influence on me in the last few years having read his book and putting it to use. He will be explaining how to motivate others to be their best selves, and why it’s paramount to giving value and building a healthy society of better people with increased self-confidence.

Yep – it’s true. Give someone a positive trait or characteristic to live up to and the chances are, they will. This is not just a feel-good philosophy but one that has proven to work time and again. In a previous article we looked at one reason. Now, let’s discuss another.

In Les Giblin’s classic, How To Have Confidence And Power in Dealing With People, he shows that the best way to elicit one acting in a certain way is to let them “live up” to your expectation of them. The following story told by the author, regarding people living up to a trait they are not usually given, demonstrates a method as good as any “truth serum” on the market today.

[quote style=”boxed”]A police officer was consistently able to get thugs to give him information. How? By saying, ‘People tell me you have quite a reputation as a tough guy and that you’ve been in lots of trouble, but there’s one thing you won’t do – you won’t lie. They say, if you tell me anything at all, it will be the truth – and that’s the reason I’m here.[/quote]

Wow, talk about giving one something to live up to!

The Back Story

Les quotes famed British statesman Sir Winston Churchill as saying, “I have found that the best way to get another to acquire a virtue, is to impute it to him.”

This works not just for finding out the truth, but for all aspects for dealing successfully with others in terms of bringing out their best..

I remember years ago having an opportunity to utilize this method with a person from whom I needed some specialized information. I’d used her services before and she always did a good job. Not great, but good.

This time, however, she was having some trouble locating the necessary information. As she was looking frustrated and ready to give up, I looked at the person next to me and said, “I don’t know if this information can be found or not, but I’ll tell you this – if anyone can find it, she can.” You can bet she found it and continued to go out of her way for me whenever I needed her help. And, what I love most about this is the confidence it instilled in her that I believe made her a more effective human being both personally and professionally.

Gear this method to your own unique circumstances. Not to see if it works – it works! – but to practice getting really good at making it work for you, and others, in a variety of situations.


Is your significant other losing their patience quickly? Then “appreciate” (verbally) the fact that one thing about her you truly admire is her high degree of patience.

Is your child feeling as though math isn’t his “thing?” Then express your delight that he has such a quick mind for numbers.

Is your boss displaying a temper that has you upset? Then, as you go into her office to ask a question about an unrelated issue, just happen to comment on the fact that you always admire how she is able to keep such a clear-thinking and level-headed demeanor.

Yes, give people something good – something great – to live up to and they will usually do so; often exceeding even the high expectations you have set for them.

Les’ Giblin’s method is not just a one-time tactic, but a way of life that raises the bar for everyone!

photo credit: jeff o_o

Bob Burg
Bob Burg

Bob Burg is the coauthor (with John David Mann) of the International Bestseller, The Go-Giver. Published in 22 languages, it has sold well over 250,000 copies. To watch a brief, really fun animated whiteboard video of the story, visit To visit Burg's website, visit He can also be found on Google Plus.

    13 replies to "How To Motivate Others To Be Their Best Selves"

    • monika

      This is great stuff!

    • Kathleen Caron

      I’m not sure that will work, but I’m willing to try!

    • Dan Black

      Expressing the good and positive facts about a person or life is so essential. It allows us to have a proper mindset and attitude. The best leaders see and pull out the best from others. Great post!!!

      • Onder Hassan

        I agree!,
        I do it all the time with people who are having a bad day or look like they’re not in the best of moods. When I tell them how nice their smile is, it makes them perk up. It’s almost like magic lol.

    • Hiten Vyas

      Hi Bob,

      I loved your post! Onder, thanks for having Bob over at your blog.

      Bob, I’ve never considered motivating others to be their best selves in this way. After reading your post, I can see the power of doing so. It’s a complete state shifter and can really help to empower people.

      Thank you.

      • Onder Hassan

        Hi Hiten,
        It definitely works. The reason why is because you’re adding value to people by saying something nice about them 🙂
        Try it, you’ll be surprised how effective it is!

    • Tom Dixon

      I would think you would have to watch exactly how you made those comments, maybe I’m just too expressive and would come across as sarcastic. Seriously – I agree, people tend to live up (or down) to the expectations we set, and we tend to set those expectations too low. I love the Go-Giver, great to see Bob here Onder!

      • Onder Hassan

        lol Thats true.
        I loved Bob’s article because it makes me realize how fascinated I am about psychology. With just a basic knowledge of how to influence people in a positive way, you can potential prevent tension or hostility.

    • Stevebloom2

      That’s a great idea. I can see how that would work. People like the idea of having a positive attribute so they want to live up to it.

      I learned something similar in teaching. When you raise the standards for students, it’s surprising how often they’ll reach it.

      I think how you say it would take some practice. I can imagine that it won’t work all the time. But if you’re good at it, you could probably make it a great tool to use in conversations.

      • Onder Hassan

        It’s really powerful and works like a charm 🙂
        Whenever I meet a stranger, I always start the conversation with

        “Hi, you seem very friendly, I was wondering…”

        The fact that I said I thought they were friendly, makes it clear that i’m only talking to them because of that attribute. So they have no choice but to live up to that ideal. It’s also a positive attribute so they will want to live up to it naturally. 🙂

    • yepi

      This is indeed a great site! Very informative and interesting to read.

      The details are well-explained and very concise.

      This is what I’ve been looking for. Thank yo

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