Splitting “Don’t Want”

It was one of those quick-but-transformative coaching conversations:

 “I’m really uncomfortable delivering this (not-for-profit) fundraising presentation.”

“Why?  Because you’re asking other people to give you money?”

“Yeah.  I really don’t want to do it.”

“Why do you say you don’t WANT to do it?”

“Well.. I feel bad about asking these people who don’t have a lot of money to begin wi… well… that not true, they FEEL like they don’t have a lot of money, but really…   hmm, yeah, I guess I just said somethign that isn’t true.  I DO WANT to do it, I’m just not COMFORTABLE doing it.”

“So you WANT to do it. Why?”


When we dissected the Skill-Will Matrix and took a good hard look at what constitutes the “will” or “willingness” to do something, we discovered that there are several pieces to willingness:  BIHAV… Beliefs, Incentives, Habits, Attitudes and Values.  As a coach, probing around the inevitable “I don’t want to”  statement is a great way to split the (lack of) motivation into its components and find a point of leverage.

In the above (recent, real) dialogue, the point of leverage was around incentives and values. The question separated the notion of comfort in doing something (aka, habit) versus the desire of the person to do it.  First, inspire the desire…  then kick the habit.  For the person being coached, the colloquial “I WANT” became aligned with “I WOULD LIKE TO HAVE THIS,” which gives them more motivational will to develop the skill.

So the next time you hear that negative self-talk that says, “I don’t want to do this,”   ask the question, “Really??” 

You may be surprised to hear the following answer: “Oh no. That’s not true. I really do want to.”


About danspira

My blog is at: http://danspira.com. My face in real life appears at a higher resolution, although I do feel pixelated sometimes.

Posted on April 15, 2011, in Communication Skills, Learning and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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