Research has shown that about 40% of people at work ignore or even resist feedback.  They make judgements based on their own internally held standards and don’t give much credence to the opinions of others.  But there is a way to influence them . . .

In a previous blog I gave an example of a member of staff who needed a lot of feedback in order to stay motivated, she had an ‘External’ motivation trait.  Her manager was able to improve her performance by setting up a simple way of providing feedback.
There was another member of the team (let’s call him Tom) who had a very different attitude to feedback; he felt it was patronising.  He was always very sure that his way was best and that he knew better.  This was becoming a problem for his manager because he was not heeding the guidance given and was always shifting the reason for his inconsistent performance to other people or other circumstances.
It was interesting to notice how this was frustrating his manager and how their relationship was suffering; things were becoming personal.  
A useful tool
After gaining some insights from a fascinating tool called the Language and Behavioural Profile (LAB Profile), the manager was able to diffuse the situation because she was able to notice that Tom was simply being very ‘Internal’.  He had his own internal frame of reference and would rely on his own internal set of standards more than the standards of others.  Tom was always pretty certain that his ideas were the best ones, because he evaluated a situation and made a decision based on his own values and experience.

This can be very productive when it is combined with high levels of competence, but can cause problems if the situation requires an openness to feedback and making adjustments.  It was becoming a significant problem for his manager when Tom was not responding to the feedback he was being given by colleagues and clients.
An interesting approach
After recognising that this was simply his motivation pattern and not his ‘personality’, his manager was able to match the way she spoke to him so he could listen to her ideas in a meaningful way.  What she did was use the language of suggestion; inviting him to consider how the results others were getting were because of the way they adjusted to their client’s needs.  She needed to let him see it for himself by encouraging him to make up his own mind that adjusting his behaviour would enable him to get more of what he wanted.  She linked the need for him to change with what was most important for him – which happened to be earning his bonus because he had recently taken out a mortgage. 
The interesting thing about the manager’s approach was that she did not ‘Tell him what to do’.  That approach was just making him defensive and full of reasons why things were not working that had nothing to do with him (from his perspective!).  
By first linking the required change in behaviour to what was of utmost importance to him, and then making suggestions for him to consider (because only he would know what was right for him), she was able to shift his behaviour.  He simply decided for himself that he wanted to adjust because it was linked to him paying his mortgage and he was able to make a strong internal link for himself.
By listening to the language people use and observing their behaviour, it is possible to identify a number of motivational patterns and how they can be addressed.  We all have our own preferences and if the way we speak uses a different pattern to the people we are communicating with, no matter what we say, we won’t motivate or influence them.  
The ‘Internal / External’ patterns mentioned above form one of the five motivation traits in the LAB Profile.  By simply listening to the way a person is speaking, the LAB Profile allows you to identify how a person is motivated and what kind of information they can handle. 

When I first heard that using the Lab Profile will get you more information about a person in 20 minutes than you can usually get from 20 years of marriage I was very sceptical, but it never ceases to surprise me how many insights LAB Profiling provides.  It gives practical tips about how to make relatively simple adjustments in your language and behaviour which can make a profound difference to your ability to understand, predict and influence the behaviour of others. 
– What is most important to you about giving and receiving feedback?
– How do you respond when people give you feedback?
– What techniques do you use to influence the people in your work or life that resist or ignore feedback?

It would be interesting to hear your opinions . . .

If you are interested in finding out more about how to Understand, Predict and Influence the behaviour of others, you may want to have a look at our online iWAM Profile tool which is based on the principles of the LAB Profile.  It elicits 48 motivational patterns and highlights the language you can use to elegantly influence your people.  

Remember . . . Stay Curious!

With best regards
David Klaasen

David Klaasen is director and owner of the niche HR consultancy, Inspired Working Ltd.  (
If you have a communication or performance problem and would like some objective advice drop him a line at
[email protected]

Thank you! Your subscription has been confirmed. You'll hear from us soon.