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Encourage vs. Motivate: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Harlon Moss || Published on January 31, 2024
Encourage means to give support or confidence, whereas motivate implies providing a reason or incentive to act.

Key Differences

Encourage is about giving support, confidence, or hope to someone. It often involves verbal affirmation and emotional backing. Motivate, however, is about providing reasons or incentives that propel a person to take action. It's more about triggering an internal drive or desire to do something.
When you encourage someone, you are essentially nurturing their self-esteem and confidence, making them feel capable and valued. In contrast, to motivate someone is to tap into their personal ambitions, desires, or needs, aiming to create a compelling urge to act or achieve.
Encouragement can come in the form of praise, reassurance, or showing faith in someone's abilities. It's often seen as a gentle push towards a goal. Motivation, on the other hand, is more about igniting a fire within someone, often through goals, rewards, or highlighting the significance of their actions.
Encouragement is crucial in creating a positive and supportive environment, where individuals feel valued and understood. Motivation, however, is key in driving performance and achievement, often focusing on specific goals or outcomes.
Encouragement is more about emotional support and positivity, while motivation is about finding and leveraging the right levers that compel someone to take action, often related to their personal or professional goals.

Comparison Chart

Primary Focus

Providing emotional support and confidence.
Providing reasons or incentives to act.


Verbal affirmation, praise, reassurance.
Setting goals, highlighting rewards, or personal benefits.


Boosts self-esteem and confidence.
Triggers internal drive and ambition.


Often used in nurturing or supportive scenarios.
Used in goal-oriented or performance-driven scenarios.


Creates a positive and supportive environment.
Drives performance and achievement.

Encourage and Motivate Definitions


To inspire with courage, spirit, or confidence.
Her teacher's words encouraged her to pursue her dreams.


To provide with a motive or a cause for action.
The promise of a bonus motivated the employees to work harder.


To stimulate by assistance or approval.
The coach encouraged the team despite their previous losses.


To cause someone to act in a particular way.
His desire to help others motivated his choice of career.


To incite or nurture a feeling or course of action.
Parents often encourage curiosity in their children.


To stimulate someone's interest or enthusiasm.
The challenge of a new project motivated her to learn new skills.


To give support or hope.
He encouraged his friend through tough times.


To be a reason for doing something.
Personal growth motivates many people to travel.


To promote, advance, or foster.
The company encourages innovation among its employees.


To inspire someone to do something.
The athlete's success story motivated young runners.


To inspire with hope, courage, or confidence.


To provide with an incentive or a reason for doing something; impel
What motivated you to get a new job? Their criticism is motivated by jealousy.


To give support to; foster
Policies designed to encourage private investment.


To cause to be enthusiastic
The coach motivated his players with an inspiring pep talk.


(transitive) To provide someone with an incentive to do something; to encourage.
The weekly staff meeting was meant to motivate employees.


(transitive) To animate; to propel; to cause to take action
He was motivated purely by self-interest.
Steam-motivated pumps are used in manufacturing.


To provide with a motive; to move; impel; induce; incite.


Give an incentive for action;
This moved me to sacrifice my career


What does encourage mean?

Encourage means to give support, confidence, or hope to someone.

Can encouragement affect motivation?

Yes, encouragement can positively influence a person's motivation.

Is motivation always external?

No, motivation can be either external (extrinsic) or internal (intrinsic).

How does encouragement help in a team setting?

Encouragement fosters a supportive environment, boosting team morale and confidence.

What's a key difference in the approach of encourage vs. motivate?

Encouragement is more about emotional support, while motivation is about providing a rationale or incentive for action.

How do children benefit from encouragement?

Encouragement boosts their confidence and promotes a positive self-image.

Can motivation be negative?

Yes, if it relies on negative reinforcement or undesirable incentives.

How does culture influence encouragement and motivation?

Cultural factors can shape how people respond to encouragement and what motivates them.

Can self-motivation be enough without encouragement?

Yes, self-motivation can be sufficient, though encouragement can enhance it.

What is the main purpose of motivation?

The main purpose of motivation is to provide reasons or incentives that prompt action.

What role does motivation play in learning?

Motivation is crucial in driving engagement and the desire to learn.

What are common forms of encouragement?

Compliments, positive feedback, and expressions of belief in someone's abilities.

Can encouragement come from peers?

Yes, peers can be a significant source of encouragement.

Does motivation always lead to success?

Not necessarily; motivation needs to be coupled with action and opportunity for success.

What factors influence personal motivation?

Personal goals, values, interests, and external circumstances can all influence motivation.

How does one maintain motivation in challenging times?

By focusing on long-term goals, seeking inspiration, and possibly adjusting expectations.

Do leaders need to encourage and motivate?

Yes, effective leaders often use both encouragement and motivation to inspire their teams.

Can motivation change over time?

Yes, as personal goals or situations change, so can what motivates an individual.

Can you measure the effectiveness of encouragement?

While subjective, its effectiveness can often be seen in improved morale and performance.

Is encouragement always verbal?

Not always; it can also be through actions or gestures.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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