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Are you Dancing or Wrestling?

In motivational interviewing we often talk about dancing vs. wrestling in our coaching conversations. When we think of wrestling, what comes to mind? There is competition, conflict and friction. There is a push and pull and each is trying to take over the other. Someone is a winner and someone is a loser.

What is going on in a dance, especially in ballroom dancing? Individuals are working together in partnership. There is a natural flow, a rhythm. There is a goal and to be successful the two individuals need to work together in partnership.

In our conversations with patients, clients, participants and staff members we want to work together, to collaborate, to be in a partnership. This is where the magic happens. This is where we can begin to experience the flow of our conversation with others around change. 

Ways to establish the Dance in our conversations:

Be Present.  Let go of judgement, assumptions and expectations. Let your body language tell your speaker that you are listening with your eyes, ears and heart.

Listen.  Listen all the way to the end of their statement.  Reflecting on what the individual is saying rather than asking a question will demonstrate to the individual that you are listening to them.

Partnership. Work together in partnership.  As the clinician/practitioner, you may be gently guiding the conversation to the target change behavior.  We elicit and explore their thoughts and desires and work together in collaboration.

Take breaks.  Sometimes a break is helpful to pause and assess what is working and what is not working. Take a breath, a drink of water and begin to reconnect.

Keep moving forward.  During times of missteps, learn what did not work and quickly move forward. You may even feel like you stepped on the other’s toes! The key is to minimize time and energy looking back at failed attempts and missteps and keep looking and moving forward. 

Know the desired target.  What is it that the patient/client is wanting to change?  Find the focus. Never underestimate the power of engagement. Perhaps the goal is to engage with the patient and begin the process of visualizing and contemplating the possible change and desired target.

Do your conversations feel like a wrestling match or a dance? Seek to find common ground with others. Find partnership, collaboration and conversation.

If you know of others, perhaps your leadership team or a friend, who would be interested in learning more or receiving this and other blog posts, please feel free to forward to those individuals.

If you are interested in bringing me to your organization for a refresh training or coming to a public training, I’d love to hear from you. Send me a comment or email at beckylang@icloud.com.

Tranform Conversations. Transform Lives.
Dr. Becky Lang

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“Dr. Lang’s training provided me with a better understanding of the motivational interviewing process. The skills I learned from her training have helped me feel more engaged and thoughtful when listening and talking with those around me. Dr. Lang is energetic, knowledgeable, passionate and provides a great learning environment.”

Nancy AdrianseBSDH, Oral Health Manager, Iowa Primary Care Association

“The training I received in Becky’s motivational interviewing class was invaluable. It laid a wonderful foundation for me to effectively empower my patients to develop and implement positive changes for their health. Becky created such a nurturing, nonthreatening environment that allowed me to freely learn and practice. This is certainly a class I can recommend to anyone wanting to learn to assist others with behavior changes.”

Robin GeorgeRN, Motivational Interviewing training participant

“At the YMCA, we have worked with Dr. Becky Lang for over a decade now to help us shift and shape our culture. As an organization committed to strengthening our community, the coaching and training skills that Dr. Lang has provided have helped us immensely. With her education and guidance she has helped us establish a culture that focuses on building meaningful relationships with our members, focusing on their needs, and coaching them towards success in their pursuit of a healthy lifestyle. Dr. Lang has trained all levels of our staff from our front line Wellness Coaches to our Executive Directors and Leadership Teams. Her on-going support has allowed the coaching-culture to come alive in our organization.”

Kim Stewart Kim Stewart Director of Operations, YMCA of Greater Des Moines

“The training Becky provided has been one of the most rewarding nursing experience I have had in 30 years. The style of interviewing and teaching patients is rewarding and positive. Her techniques drive the sessions to be more personal and patient-centered. Through Becky’s teaching, I was comfortable to practice and get familiar with the motivational interviewing process. Becky is an exceptional trainer and I recommend her training to all health coaches and educators.”

Sandy LovelessRN, Motivational Interviewing training participant

“The motivational interviewing techniques Becky teaches allow patients to set goals and work toward changes that are important to them. Patients feel in control of their own health and allow me to be in a more supportive roll. Becky has a positive and uplifting spirit that makes her classes extremely enjoyable.”

Tyra CarltonRN, Motivational Interviewing training participant

“Rebecca Lang was a respected colleague who diligently served as a teacher and mentor to hundreds of students over her long career at Grand View University. I had the distinct pleasure to work with Becky and regularly witness her vocation to Wellness education. She motivates those around her by a strong and genuine commitment to a lifestyle which promotes health and well-being.”

Katharina TumpekPhD, Professor and former Chair, Dept. of Health Promotions, Grand View University

“It has been a pleasure to work with Becky Lang over the last 25 years. Within a variety of contexts in the wellness arena, I have witnessed Dr. Lang’s mastery as a wellness educator, a health coach, a professor, and, most recently, as a health coaching trainer. I could go on at length about Dr. Lang’s passion, enthusiasm, high energy, wisdom, and deep knowledge in health promotion and behavior change. One of the attributes that impresses me most, though, is her ability to create a relaxed, fun, interactive, and content-rich training environment. Her refreshingly supportive, inviting, and empathic style of training and coaching allows learners to take risks, experiment, try on new skills, and participate authentically in role play exercises without feeling awkward and intimidated. Through Dr. Lang’s coaching and training, people learn–often more than they imagined.”

Jill NorrisRN, MPH, PCMH-CCE, Director, Care Management, University of Iowa Health Alliance