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Seb Anthony

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How do you try and convince someone thats unemployed that work is better for them?


I Currently work for a cmpany that deals solely with the JCP and unemployed people, i was looking for any advise and tips on motivating someone who is dead against the idea of returning to work. I am trying numerous incentives and ideas and for some people they are falling on deaf ears! i am determined that i will convince at least one of them that work is good!

the trouble is HOW!!!!
your thoughts as ever would be appreciated

Rich Gillett

Rich Gillett

6 Responses

  1. Pragmatist
    This is not an easy one to solve – I disagree with trainers who say its easy to train attitude – its not, attitude is linked to all manner of issues including upbringing, beliefs, personal values and ethics.
    You wont convince someone who is against the war in Iraq to be in favour of it if they have already made their mind up.
    A logical argument wont work, nor will incentives, subtle persuasion, peer influencing etc. It follows that to assume you can simply ‘motivate’ them into moving towards your point of view is also misguided, especially if they are intrenched in their strongly held viewpoint – however fervently you disagree with this perspective.
    Furthermore if someone has had a bad experience its all very well saying it wont happen again but the fact of the matter is they have hard evidence that it does happen.

    So what am I saying? – well I’m drawing parallels, I’m not saying give up but do realise that there is a more to it than logic/emotional persuasion and influencing techniques.

    Many trainers I know say you can only influence attitudes temporarily. If people are happy with their lot why should they strive for change? We dont all want to climb mountains or run marathons and to try and create a motivated climate around a premise is in my opinion misguided. Perhaps you should only devote your time to those who appear to some degree disatisfied with where they are now?

    Regretfully I dont have solutions, just pragmatism about methods of approach.

  2. Attitude change
    I agree with Juliet that attitudes can be hard to change. And, ultimately, there is only one person who can change them – the person themselves.
    However, I spent many years trying to help unemployed people in Speke in Liverpool at the time when it was the most socially deprived area of the UK. It taught me a lot about people, including a little about the type of scenario you mention.
    Firstly, I should say that support, guidance and encouragement can be enough if you catch the person at the right time; if deep down they are wanting to change are are open to being appropriately influenced.
    In some cases attitudes are well rooted and entrenched. In these cases you need to either think of small steps (in what may be a long journey) or something more dramatic to rattle and shake.
    You sound well-intentioned and ethical, so I am not going to touch on the ethics of influencing but cut straight to the chase.
    here are a few tactics that might be worth a try:
    1. Ask the person what it would take for them to change their mind. Ask them what would be good about that. Ask them if (great word ‘if’) they were to change their mind what difference that might make to their life.
    2. Tell them a real story of how someone has turned themselves around. Don’t tell it as a moral tale or to show how great things can be. Tell it in a way that might resonant with their experience. Tell it as a way of suggesting ‘you could do this’; a door opener.
    3. Ask the person to look a year ahead, two years, five years. Ask what they fear might happen if they do get a job and if they don’t.

    All the above are ‘pulling’ approaches and need great care and skill. Pushing approaches, such as incentives and selling the benefits, only really work when someone is at a tipping point.
    Some people can get stuck, depressed, unconfident and closed down in the circumstances you describe. It is tough. My best advice is don’t expect anyone to change, if you do you may end up pushing and not listening. And you may get disheartened too. But equally, never give up on someone. I had a guy who I’ll call Barry. He’d been unemployed for 10 years and all his heart had gone out of doing anything except difting from one lazy day to the next. Then his sister sadly died and I decided the time wasn’t right to talk about getting work. I spent an hour just listening to him talk about his sister. At the end he turned to me and out of the blue just said: maybe I ought to start living. Two weeks later he started at the Dunlop factory up the road. That man taught me a lot.
    I wish you well.

  3. Thats what I was trying to say
    Thank you Graham for sensitively explaining what I was trying to get across. Your final anecdote encapsulated it for me.

  4. what are they “dead against”?
    having spent 6 years doing the job you are doing now I’ve met quite a lot of this type of thing. (including some time in Liverpool in 1992! Graham!:-)

    Are the folks against the idea of
    ~having to EARN a living
    ~looking for work and being rejected
    ~the type of work they think is the only type they’ll get
    The answer will probably be different in each case but as graham says you will need to ask clever questions and then really, really listen
    I hope this helps

  5. With thanks
    some excellent comments there, will take note of all of them and adapt my ways, and look into adapting my approach to the questions i ask

    cheers again for the advice


  6. Speak from Experience
    Tell them about your own experience of being unemployed, about how you managed during it, and how you have benefited since by getting back into work.

    An ounce of example is worth a ton of preaching.

    If you haven’t got the experience to do that, are you sure that you are the person to be trying to convince them?


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