The power of Don’t.
Don’t is very powerful. After reading ‘Don’t read this’, you’re reading it. Now don’t picture in your mind a pink elephant. You pictured it, didn’t you? That’s the power of don’t.
Don’t is flirtatious. It makes you want to do what it forbids you from doing. Maybe we should consider how we use it if we want to influence the behaviour of people… Most of the time it would probably be more effective if we painted a clear picture in their mind of what we do want.
Instead of ‘Don’t give me problems’, how about ‘Let me know what you think would help us to improve’… Instead of ‘Don’t forget about the meeting’, how about ‘Make a note of the date so that you remember the meeting’. Instead of ‘Don’t bother me this morning’, how about ‘Please come and see me this afternoon’.
It’s crazy how the power of Don’t in an instruction can tempt the exact opposite… Don’t spend time thinking about this (or this article’s use of it as a double bluff!), but if you do, let us know your thoughts.
If you enjoyed reading this, then please check out our MAP programme, based on Mastery, Autonomy and Purpose. Employee engagement can be a long and winding road but if you follow the MAP you won’t go far wrong.