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What’s Your Motive? – Join Our #MTtalk!…

Think about your values for a moment – the core reasons why you do what you do. Do those values guide your behavior at work? Or do other motives and needs sometimes take control?

And, whatever the real reasons are for your behavior, how are your motives viewed by others?

This week’s #MTtalk Twitter chat is about understanding why you do and say certain things, and what your behavior tells others about the values you hold.

“I must not reflect on what I’m doing. Rather, I must do one of the most difficult things imaginable and reflect on why I’m doing it.”

Craig D. Lounsbrough, American author

Please Join Us!

What: #MTtalk
Where: Twitter
When: November 8, @ 1 p.m. EDT (6 p.m. GMT/11:30 p.m. IST)
Topic: What’s Your Motive?
Host: @Mind_Tools

What’s Your Motive?

It’s important to question your motivation from time to time – because you can be sure that the people around you are analyzing it, too! The factors influencing your decisions and actions may not be written on your face. But the people you live and work with will get a good idea of them – or think they do, at least – from the way you behave.

Asking “Why?”

I found myself questioning someone’s motives a few years ago, when I was facilitating training at a large organization.

The training was intense, and it was crucial that everybody kept up. During one of the sessions, we had to work through a difficult case study. There was deep concentration in the room.

Halfway through my explanation, the door suddenly burst open. A man thrust his head into the room and said, cheerily, “Hi everybody! I was walking past and I thought I’d wish you a fantastic day! Bye!” And with that he was gone again.

I was nonplussed. I had no idea who he was, or why he did what he did. When I asked the delegates if they knew him, some replied that he worked in their department, a few blocks away. “Greeting Guy” must have been in the main building for some other reason, and decided it would be a good idea to say “Hi” to his colleagues. Which, of course, it wasn’t – it was a terrible one.

As friendly and enthusiastic as the man was, he’d intruded at a critical moment. It took a while to get everybody’s attention again and refocus.

When I’d overcome my initial annoyance, I told myself that the man’s intent was likely good.

But then one of his colleagues suggested that he may have had an ulterior motive – based on a need for attention. And the more I thought about it, the more I found myself questioning his values.

If he’d really wanted to do something nice for his colleagues, and had respect for their training time, surely he’d have waited until the break to say hello – or just given them space to do what they had to do.

Yes, he could have accidentally given us the wrong impression about his motives. But it felt much more probable that his behavior had made his true values all too clear.

What’s Your “Why?”

It pays to think carefully about your motives, and how they’ll be perceived.

If you’re offering help, for example, are you doing so out of generosity and care. Or are you trying to manipulate the situation in some way? And, whatever your true motive is, how will your “helping” look to others?

This kind of self-analysis can be tough, and the findings hard to take.

Maybe you realize that you’re burning to tell your story not to add to the conversation, but to one-up your peers.

Perhaps you discover that your habit of sharing gossip is less about building relationships, and more about making yourself look important.

And if you play “the blame game,” or criticize colleagues behind their back, it is really because you “care about the company”? Or, has envy crept into your attitude, and self-promotion become your motive?

Before You Do

In my experience, it’s always a good idea to be mindful of your motives. Whenever I can, I try to pause, and ask myself questions such as:

  • Why am I doing this?
  • Is it really for the good of others, or just to fulfill a selfish need?
  • Will it solve a problem?
  • Will it improve relationships?
  • Is there a better way to go about it?
  • Might it be best not to do it at all?

About Our Twitter Chat

During our #MTtalk chat this week we’re going to talk about uncovering and examining our motives.

We used a Twitter poll to ask what makes you second guess someone’s motives. Only 14 percent of participants said that it was because they had “history” with the person. However, 38 percent said that it was down to knowing what motivated them. You can see all the options and results here.

We’d love you to participate in Friday’s chat, and the following questions may spark some thoughts in preparation:

What drives you to do what you do?

How varied are your motives for tasks/projects/actions? Why?

How do you know what your motives are?

Is it possible to change your motives – or can you only change your behavior?

What can you do to become more aware of your motives?

What assumptions do you make about the motives of others? How do you know?


To help you to prepare for the chat, we’ve compiled a list of resources for you to browse:

Beware the “Cheater’s High!”

Developing “Character”


How to Preserve Your Integrity

Coaching to Explore Beliefs and Motives

Authentic Leadership

How to Join

Follow us on Twitter to make sure that you don’t miss out on any of the action this Friday! We’ll be tweeting out 10 questions during our hour-long chat. To participate, type #MTtalk in the Twitter search function. Then, click on “All Tweets,” and you’ll be able to follow the live chat feed. You can join the chat by using the hashtag #MTtalk in your responses.

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