Motivational Interviewing Skills


Motivational interviewing (often used by healthcare providers to improve patient care results) is used to help people achieve their goals by inspiring and encouraging the interviewees to recognize their own role in making a positive change.

These techniques are also used in corporate settings as part of change management programs.


Interviewing Skills


Types of Questions to Ask

Rather than the interviewer (a therapist, for example) influencing the interviewee, the focus is on eliciting recognition that change is truly desired. That recognition often produces just the right stimulation to provoke the discipline and diligence necessary to accomplish difficult tasks, such as improving one’s diet to lose weight or stopping cigarette, drug or alcohol abuse.

As an interviewer, you must develop your skill in asking questions that prompt your interviewees to reflect on their current behavior. Soliciting accountability is key. Gently asking how ready for change the interviewee is can encourage constructive conversation regarding lifestyle changes necessary to accomplish the goal.

Ask about the types of activities that have not worked and potential remedies to those barriers. This will help you assess their readiness for change. Then, through causing the interviewee to talk about the positive results of change, you can allow for recognition of the importance of change. This leads to confidence in the possibilities of success.

Another questioning technique to practice is to ask your interviewees to rate their sense of readiness on a scale of 1 to 5 or 1 to 10. For example, if you were trying to motivate a person to lose weight, you might ask your interviewee how confident he is in being able to adhere to the diet plan. You might also ask how likely it is that he will be able to maintain a healthy lifestyle once the goal is achieved.


Managing Your Reaction

Value the contribution the interviewee makes. Guide the individuals to recognize the difference between how they want to live and how they are living. Accept reluctance, and practice patience.

Support the interviewee in the exploration of deep feelings. Avoid confrontation. Be respectful and optimistic, and you are likely to elicit a positive outcome. Develop your motivational interviewing skills to help interviewees make powerful decisions for their own well-being. Encourage self-assessment.


What You Can Expect

Depending on the degree of change and disruption, you can expect a range of emotion. By focusing on the future rather than on past failures, you can trigger confidence in adopting new patterns in dealing with difficult situations.


Regain Lost Motivation

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