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.
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