Shame isn’t an effective motivator

Just a few minutes ago, the Florida senate rejected a permanent ban on assault weapons and high capacity magazines.

This is after 17 Floridians were recently killed in Parkland. And after the 2016 shooting in Orlando that killed 49 and wounded another 58.

Our natural outrage drives us to yell at people. To complain. To say, “how dare you?” It’s a shame-based approach that we think should work.

But this is no different than people who stand outside of medical clinics yelling at young women who enter.

Shame isn’t an effective motivator.

To motivate people you can’t start from the outside – where you decide what you think should work, and then do it.

To motivate people you need to work from where they are at.

In the case of these assault weapons, it’s clear Congress won’t be motivated by shame. But money seems to work.

That’s why we’re likely going to see more happen when Walmart and Dick’s make decisions about what they’ll sell and to whom, than when people protest their local politicians.

But this isn’t about guns. It’s about motivation. Stop thinking in terms of “should”. When we try to shame people, because we feel they “should” get motivated by it, we fail. We don’t control how people should feel. But we can observe what does motivate them and use that.

That’s my main point today. It’s not earth-shattering. We all know this to be true. And yet, even though we know it, we fall into the trap regularly.

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