The Motivational Conflict

I humorously remember that, when I was in high school, although I didn’t know any NLP, I adored playing with modal operators. A friend of mine, who didn’t share my enthusiasm, would always find a reply that would kill my theoretical argumentation.
One day, I was explaining to someone how to go from “threat” to “reward” with somebody:
– Look: instead of saying “
one must“, you use “it is necessary“, and you replace “it is necessary” with “it is important“. Then, you change “it is important“, with “I wish“, and “I wish” will eventually be replaced by “I want“!”
Proud of the fact that on the face of the woman that I wanted to convince I could see another perspective brightening up, my dear friend snapped at me:
– And “
I want” is being replaced by “I can’t“.

If you can’t, then you must!” – Anthony Robbins

Have you ever had the feeling that you have one foot on the brake and the other one on the throttle pedal when you want to achieve something? Well, there could likely be a conflict between the following modal operators: will, necessity and possibility.

I have encountered such an example with somebody who was telling me about a situation in her life: she worked for a company that often required her to work overtime because she must, she is required, and because nobody else doesn’t want to make a certain amount of that effort that falls to her and which she is not contractually obliged to make. She wants to go to the Church on Sunday but it is the only day of the week when she can rest and she wants to take advantage of this because on the other weekdays she must work. She wants to spend time with her managers because she considers them to be decent people but she believes that she is not obliged to put up with somebody’s nerves when they are split on her in an unjustified manner.

This scenario is probably familiar to (way too) many persons. Despite this, such a mechanism is impossible not to generate frustrations and conflicts in the long run, with one’s self and/or others. There are, of course, situations where assertiveness helps. However, it is of great value to realize how this conflict can help you detect such a conflict.

Types of conflicts that may exist are:
I must, but I can’t
I want, but I can’t
I must, but I won’t

I want, but I mustn’t
I can, but I won’t
I can, but I mustn’t


Motivation in the context of persuasion and negotiation
Motivation is determined in the context of selling and negotiation. 
Knowing what determines the adverse party negotiator to act, from the language he uses, can be a strong weapon in the negotiation process.

If you want to (self)mobilize, knowing which language you can use to start any sentence, is an effective way to talk to the other in the language he understands.
Of course, when we speak of motivation, it is about a continuous state of 
mobilization, not conflict.

Mobilization engages energy, 
inner conflict drains it.

Mobilization is useful to accomplish certain actions, such as determining someone to buy a product or service that meets their needs or desires.


Inner conflict model no. 1: Do not think of a pink elephant! or How to stumble against your own feet.

There are some situations in which people negatively formulate these operators that they use. In these situations, it is good to ask: «If something isn’t required/isn’t what you want/is not possible/probable, then what is required/is possible / is probable?», for instance: <<If you mustn’t go to work, then what must you do?>>

Usually, a negative wording may mean one out of two things: either negative thinking or an avoidance tendency.
The problem is that when someone expresses something like:
I mustn’t necessarily oblige myself to do this pressing thing»
I don’t want to go to this faculty because it is something I don’t like »
I’m unable to make this decision in my career because I lack X »
I am afraid it is improbable for me to complete this task on time »
…they focus on an unpleasant effect, they focus on a lack of something. 
If we focus on one thing, we have a good chance to get more out of that thing. In this case, if we focus on the lack of something or what we do not want, we get exactly the thing we fear.

These are no longer mobilization strategies but self-sabotaging strategies, and those who use them bear the consequences of their own losing mentality. When there’s a question of:
OK. You focus on avoiding X. But if you must/want/might/may avoid X, what do you want to get instead? Obviously, Y ».

Some may think that it is about the law of attraction. I am not a fan of Rhonda Byrnes spiritually (although I appreciate the marketing genius in creating the phenomenon The Secret, or more directly, how she managed to sell her product speculating the lack of information to her clients – something I do not know how long will serve her in the long run). However, what is very clear is: the harder you run out of anything, the more likely you will not get rid of it.

Let’s look carefully at the following fictional situation, inspired by reality: the client comes to a coach with the need to lose weight. The coach asks the client:
“What must / do you want to / might / may you get?”
I want not to be fat anymore [you can see that, as soon as I detected the modal operator, I’ve been only using it]”
OK, and you won’t be fat anymore, what do you want to get with that?”
I want not to eat so much anymore.”
OK, and if you want not to eat so much anymore, what do you want to get with that?”
I want people to look at me in the street and not laugh.”
OK, and if you want people to look at you in the street and laugh anymore, what would you wish [synonym for “want”] instead of this? [you can see that the client has rephrased the problem, from avoiding being fat to avoiding the laughter of others in the street]”
I want to feel good when I see people’s reactions. [Note how the client has now positively phrased the problem and placed the responsibility upon himself]”
OK, and what stops you from feeling good when you see people’s reactions? [Note how the coach asked the question only when the client has come to the positive form of the statement after having repeated the question several times]”
The fact that I can’t mobilize myself and start a diet”
What do you want to happen, so that you would want to keep a diet/What stops you from wanting to keep a diet? [etc.]”

People’s motivation to buy dietary products and weight loss treatments is to get rid of extra weight. That’s what these people want. What they need is to adopt a healthy lifestyle. Most products that sell desires, solve effects. Most products that sell needs, solve causes. If you solve causes, then you have a satisfied customer that brings you, other satisfied customers. If you solve the effects, then you have a dependent client who gets frustrated in time.


Questions that bring awareness
Practically, in the example of the above-mentioned session fragment, the client has come from focusing on a problem to focusing on a solution, employing a series of questions asked in a specific order to help him become aware of certain things. I wish to point out here a truth expressed in coaching, i.e. that «
the one who asks questions, is in charge ».
Tony Robbins, the great American trainer, states that « 
the quality of the life we live depends on the quality of the questions we ask ourselves ». In this respect, irrespective of the modal operator necessary for getting motivated / being motivated, in determining the necessity of a negotiating partner / potential client, or phrasing an objective, the following questions are extremely useful:

What would happen if you got X?
What would happen if you didn’t get X?
What wouldn’t happen if you got X?
What wouldn’t happen if you didn’t get X?

These questions have the power to focus the mind of the interlocutor to think in a multidimensional manner, which will allow a better understanding of the consequences of the actions we perform.
And one more thing that is worth being considered: 
as long as we have discernment and free will, we have the power to choose, no matter how much or how little we realize it.


Inner conflict model no. 2. The complicated variant, or How to stumble against your own feet, only imaginary this time
An action-level conflict reflects an inner value-level conflict. In fact, most conflicts come down to conflicts of values. Below you can find the technique I shared with only a few specialists.

What you have below is nothing but a systematic way to solve an inner conflict in your case, in the case of a potential client, or anyone else.
The structure of the NLP coaching technique to instantly solve inner conflicts is substantiated in the Cartesian logic and is part of the field called Quantum Linguistics. The field defines a discipline of language that studies the way it can be used to push the meanings of the words to the maximum of the essence.

Behind any behavior, there is a positive intention, even if one is not aware of it, and which can be found through a series of questions. Throughout the process, one should only use the client’s specific questions and words, nothing more.

Step 1. Make a table with two large columns, A and B, from top to bottom. In each table head, at A and B you should put the word or phrase that best defines the conflict, assuming that there are only two parts. (For the conflicts with multiple parts, resort to an NLP professional)

Step 2. First for column A, then for column B, ask questions to go deeper, on each conflicting side. You will gradually get to a common core criterion/value for the two columns, even if not immediately.

Step 3. As answers are received, several behaviors, principles, convictions, values, criteria may occur. Criteria differentiate themselves from values by the fact that they check the values (i.e. a criterion measures the level up to which one or several values are met) and are usually more specifically phrased and in more detail, in several words), while a value is usually described by 1-2 words. It is important to link, from top to bottom, logically, using arrows, the behavior from which each party starts, with the criteria and values it reaches.

Step 4. Check if the point identified by you at A and B really is mutual: Ask the four questions above to make sure that there is no other mutual answer.

Step 5. Identify which of the two columns is preferable for the client to choose: A or B?

Let’s suppose that, at this moment, the client chooses A.
Desired behavior [A]= each statement to be found in column A, from top to bottom, taken only once.
Intention=the core value shown in column B.

Step 6. Phrase the following framing language: “
Anything less than the desired behavior [A] is not the intention [B], isn’t it?” / “Orice este mai putin decat comportamentul dorit [A], nu este intentia [B], nu-i asa?” While doing this, some statements may make sense to the client, others not. THE STATEMENTS THAT FIRST DON’T MAKE ANY SENSE MATTER THE MOST because they trigger the change effect. For a language/thinking pattern to be convincing/functional, it mustn’t necessarily have a clear meaning; it is enough for it to be plausible. The client’s neural networks will unconsciously do the rest.
That’s all. At the end of the process, which may take between 15-30 minutes, you will have a determined customer! Enjoy!

If you liked this article, then please also check this one:

NLP Modal Operators From A Marketing Perspective.

Marcus Victor Grant

Copyright © Marcus Victor Grant 2013-present. Translation by Cristiana Brezeanu of the article “Conflictul motivational“, that was initially published in Romanian on November 30th, 2013 on Economia Online. Copyright © Marcus Victor Grant, all rights reserved.

The materials published on this blog are covered by and subjected to this disclaimer.

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