Understanding Motivation for Difficult Behaviors

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Understanding Motivation for Difficult Behaviors

Understanding Motivation for Difficult Behaviors

Motivation initiates habitual, repeated, and new behaviors. Most motivation is, at its core, self-serving. While this sounds bad, it really is not, because often the resulting behavior serves others. For example:

  1. Philanthropists feel good after helping other people.
  2. Parents feel peace when they know their children are safe, so they sacrifice to protect them.
  3. Taxpayers get deductions for charitable giving.
  4. People volunteer services for organizations that reinforce their moral or ethical values.

Motivation will provide a person with any of the following:

  1. Self-preservation
  2. Self-promotion (attaining stature or power)
  3. Self-defense
  4. Self-stimulation
  5. Self-reward (the comfort of a habit, a happy feeling, etc.)
  6. Self-fulfillment (personal growth)

Difficult personalities are motivated by desires that disregard other people or the environment. These people place their own needs above those around them. More often than not, though, they believe they are doing the right thing for all concerned because in their own mind, they know what is right.

By default, we all believe that we are right in our thoughts, words, or actions; but we can be deceived by any of the following:

  1. A lack of understanding.
  2. False knowledge.
  3. Misinterpretations.
  4. Delusions.

These deceptions motivate us to act out in many ways to varying degrees. The following are example of how a person might behave given a certain motivation:

  1. Not acknowledging other people's opinions or ideas.
  2. Suppressing or invalidating ideas.
  3. Experiencing negative emotions.
  4. Speaking out compulsively or harshly.
  5. Believing delusions (beliefs held with absolute conviction despite superior evidence).
  6. Projecting behavior onto others.
  7. Lying to ourselves and others.
  8. Pretending to know something we do not know.
  9. Rationalizing our actions.

While we expect these behaviors in all people at times, the extreme personality will demonstrate these behaviors more predominately, to the degree that it adversely affects them or the people around them.


This tutorial is based on Webucator's Working with Difficult People Course. We also offer many other Business Management Training courses. Sign up today to get help from a live instructor.