Do You Have the Right Gear?

Dr. Becky Lang

January 26, 2020

Do You Have the Right Gear?

I love snow and cooler weather. I especially enjoy taking a walk outside.  Now, hang on…not bitterly cold weather or the wind, or dangerous weather conditions.  What I enjoy is the fresh air and snow in the air.  I find it invigorating.  I also believe the fresh air keeps me healthier. Now, I like (love) sunshine, short sleeves and walking the beach - don’t get me wrong.  However, there is just something about winter I enjoy and can only get when I am out in it.  


Part of this perspective comes from enjoying it as a kid (thanksMom and Dad) from sledding, downhill skiing, cross country skiing and most importantly, just getting outside.   WhatI now realize, is that the key is to have the right gear and MOVE.  The warm boots, mittens/gloves, neck warmer, hat, hood, Yak tracks for my boots, along with a wind protecting coat and pants are essential.  Once I start moving, I warm up very quickly.


I share this with you because I was out on my winter walk one late afternoon last week when I realized that having the “right gear” makes all the difference.  Especially true for challenging walks out in the snow and potential ice that is difficult to see.  I purchased Yaktraxs (there are several different types and grips and I am not a sponsor for them) for my trip toIceland last year and have loved wearing them since.  I wear them when I shovel and walk outside if there is any snow and/or potential ice. They are the best.  I walk faster, take larger strides and my body is relaxed as I am not afraid of slipping.


I thought about how this relates to our work with those we serve.  Yup, that is where my mind went to on this walk outside.     The Yaktraxs are like having the right“tools/skills” for our compassionate conversations with others. Whether these conversations are with our teenagers, aging parents, clients, patients, families, staff, leaders, or coworkers -  having and using the most effective and “right skills” are key.  


Knowing how to engage with others to open up conversations, how to listen more than speak, how to offer information or ideas to others in a more effective manner, and to truly let the other person know we value what they bring to the table.  


In person centered-conversations and motivational interviewing training there are foundational skills learned and practiced.  Skills such as:

Spirit of MI:

·      Holding others in our conversations with:  compassion, autonomy, partnership, and evocation.

Using OARS:

·     Open ended and evoking questions: what, tell me, describe

·     Affirming the efforts of others. “You are working hard and committed to finding a way to make this work.”

·     Reflections. Listening for and reflecting change talk (desire, ability, reasons and need) and honoring/exploring sustain talk

·     Summary: Summarizing key points made by the individual which indicates you have been listening and holding a place for the change talk from the individual to help move conversation and action forward


Just as I need the “right gear” for me to continue to enjoy the winter and participate in the activities that invigorate and refresh,I also need to have and use the most effective and “right conversation skills”to engage with others to evoke and bring out the best in others and what they are working towards.  


Perhaps this conversation is one to help all of us revisit those person-centered and motivational interviewing skills we have learned atone time.  To pull out and review the laminated skills sheet you would have received when you attended one of my trainings.


Here’s to having the “right gear” in whatever we do.


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.

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