How do we talk to each other?
by Ned Wicker
Learning how to have EFFECTIVE conversations.
It’s one thing to tell somebody something they need to know, but it’s quite another story for them to hear you. Sure, they listen, and they may even listen intently, but do they hear? It’s your idea that comes crashing down against their idea. It can turn into a battle of wills. I want you to listen and you aren’t paying attention. There is a disconnect.
But what if the idea I share with you, or in some way lay out before you, becomes your idea? Motivational Interviewing (MI) is first and foremost a way of being with someone. It involves a goal-oriented conversation about a particular behavior, such as drinking too much, and it draws upon a person’s own reasons and motivations for positive change.
Motivational Interviewing is a method that works on facilitating and engaging intrinsic motivation within the other person in order to encourage change. That is, it is empowered by a person’s own desire to change. It’s goal-oriented conversation style, designed to effect change by helping people examine and resolve ambivalence.
If I tell you to quit drinking because it’s killing you, you will respond by telling me to mind my own business. You don’t want to quit. Or, you can quit any time you want, you just don’t want to. You are ambivalent, you don’t care.
Non-directive conversations are not as focused. The counselor is intentionally directing conversation in pursuit of a goal. MI will meet a person where they are at. That is, if you’re just thinking about making a change, we start there. Perhaps you’ve been trying for years to change something and it hasn’t worked. We will start there.
Change comes in stages and it’s not a straight line. It’s about collaboration, not confrontation. It’s about partnership not power. It honors the person’s expertise and perspectives. It encourages power-sharing in the relationship by asking for permission to share. While the counselor may be directing a goal-oriented conversation, the other person’s ideas substantially influence the nature of the conversation.
The point is, it’s a concept or idea to consider. What kind of a conversation do you want to have if you see the need for change? What would help if you have already decided to change something, but you don’t know where to begin?