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Created By N. Zimmermann

Supporting people in exploring their passions and interests helps stimulate action. One example of this is schools or universities, where students are provided with structure and schedule. Another example is working in non-formal education, where otivation and self-organization are mainly decided by the participants themselves. But motivations for actions are varied. Some motivations involve a feeling of responsibility, some a material gain, still others a gain in power. Yet another motivation is an attraction to the idea of vita active - a purposeful active life.

According to Apter[1], motivation expresses itself in four ways: Relationships, rules, transactions and means. Everyone has preferences here, but at the same time, living a healthy life entails experiencing every type of these. The types are formed by pairs of opposites. For example, there are two sides to a "relationship": a self-oriented and an other-oriented one. One cannot act in both ways at the same time; however, a "reversal" can occur in which "the opposite state takes over at that moment." Apter concludes that people should "experience all these states at work, and in this way to display motivational versatility and psychodiversity, especially since organizations tend to privilege the serious, conformist, and achievement states.” [2]

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Case study: Personalities, attitudes, polarities

A team established a cross-generational club in their community. Two team members talk about their intrinsic motivations - why they are active in this project:

Team member 1: I want

  • to discuss things.
  • to overcome my shyness about speaking publicly.
  • harmony in the team.

Team member 2: I want

  • a functioning meeting group.
  • to try out leadership abilities.
  • to work productively and effectively.

The motivation profiles for both team members are quite different:

Team member 1

 
Feeling self-sufficiency

Playfulness

Gaining influence

Following the plan

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Supporting others

Envisionsing results

Deepening personal relations

Shaping something new

Team member 2

 
Feeling self-sufficiency

Playfulness

Gaining influence

Following the plan

Apter-tm2.jpg

 
Supporting others

Envisionsing results

Deepening personal relations

Shaping something new

Reversal Training

Reversal training is pushing people from their comfort zone into a learning zone, grounding on a reflection of their preferred motivational style. For example, a facilitator can help a participant who has a strong tendency to take control by encouraging him to experience an affectionate state of mind or to stimulate a different motivational pair with a specific task. Especially individual settings like coaching or mentoring seem to be helpful for such reversal training. [3]

Some people's predispositions support a group process in a training. People who tend to be “other-oriented” instead of “self-oriented” may be better suited to working on common outcomes. Also, having a “playful” approach may help you to deepen the relationship to other participants (in contrast to concentrating primarily on achievements). These people make your life as a facilitator easier. However, there are as well the other ones. They want as well benefit from a comfortable learning atmosphere. Seen through this lens, the idea of reversal training advocates for diversity of methods and styles of facilitation.

References

  1. http://michaelapter.net/
  2. M. J. Apter, S. Carter: Mentoring and motivational versatility: an exploration of reversal theory in Career Development International 7/5 [2002]; p. 293
  3. N. Zimmermann: /Mentoring Handbook - Providing Systemic Support for Mentees and Their Projects; Berlin 2012; MitOst; ISBN 978-3-944012-00-1

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M. Gawinek-Dagargulia, E. Skowron,
N. Zimmermann

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