The Motivational Power of Guilt

Guilt didn’t play a big role in my upbringing: I was never discouraged from having sex in order to prevent my mother from having a heart attack, nor was I warned to do well in school to compensate for any sacrifices my parents suffered in raising me.

So it comes as a surprise to me to hear — as I have twice in the past week — that my voice apparently rings in the heads of others as a guilt-inducing force.

Thoughtful scholars with important insights into two critical issues recently agreed to do radio and TV interviews, despite their discomfort with the activity, because they remembered my explicit encouragement during Informed Opinions workshops about the importance of women not abdicating the field. But both confessed to me afterwards that this pushed them over the resistance hump.

When I was first asked to go on CBC Radio earlier in January, I said no. Then I immediately felt guilty because I knew you would be so disappointed. I’ve now been on their show twice and on the local CTV station as well.

So wrote Kelly Grindrod, a pharmacist and professor at the University of Waterloo pictured above, who also published an op ed this week in The Toronto Star. Her piece offered clear, concrete advice about how we can — and must — collectively address the critical problem of the overprescription of antibiotics. In compensation for the time she invested to craft, polish and submit commentary on a timely issue, Kelly’s insights received more than 10,000 hits, and over 500 Facebook recommendations, making her piece the most read op ed of the month!

So although guilt may be the initial motivator, what keeps experts agreeing to interviews (despite the inconvenience, the time challenge, and even the nerves) is experiencing that kind of impact — knowing that thousands of people will benefit from the knowledge shared, and be able to make choices that may make a positive difference to some aspect of their daily lives, or those of others.

For scholars interested in becoming more comfortable and more effective in media interviews, the Informed Opinions website has a useful primer, accessible here.

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Founder and Catalyst of Informed Opinions, and an award-winning author, educator and women’s advocate with more than 20 years of experience on both sides of the microphone. Since 2010, Shari has helped amplify the voices of thousands of women across Canada, supporting them in sharing their insights and analysis with a broader public. Her most recent book, OMG! What if I AM the right person? advances those goals.

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