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Change Conversations using Motivational Interviewing (MI)

Updated: Nov 2, 2023

The WHAT? The WHY? The HOW?

When you are trying to help someone and are having conversations about change, do you find yourself focusing on the HOW of change? If so, do you often end up giving advice or providing solutions that the other person hasn’t asked for?

If you are among the many that are solution-focused, you are not alone!


Being solution-focused means that you are often focused on solving a problem and you help the other person by suggesting solutions or giving tips and advice. Due to this, you go all in and get swept up in brainstorming solutions and how the other person can implement those solutions.

That really sounds good, doesn’t it!? Maybe not….all the time. This is because the solutions that you offer and the tips or advice that you give are just that….YOURS. They stem from your perspective, not the other person’s perspective. Although concentrating on finding and implementing solutions can be very positive, being solution-focused can also cause us to accelerate too fast forward, moving quicker than the other person is ready to go.

To be honest, most of us already know how we should change or what we could do to move forward. Talking about change involves MORE than discussing solutions or HOW a change could or should be made.

What can be extremely helpful is to discuss the person’s motivation for implementing the solutions. That’s where Motivational Interviewing (MI) can help.

When using MI, there are three helpful key words for change conversations.

  • WHAT the person wants to change

  • WHY the person wants to change (the motivations)

  • HOW the person can make the change happen (the solutions)

So, the next time you are discussing change with someone, try asking open questions about their “WHY” of change. It may sound like this:

  • How important do you think it is for you to make this change?

  • What are your three most important reasons for making a change?

  • What difference are you hoping this change will lead to?

  • Which of your positive qualities do you plan to use to be successful in this change?

After your conversation with that person, reflect on what you learned about them and their motivation for change.

If you are wanting to discuss your reflections, feel free to book a free consultation call here.

If you are looking for tips to conduct your own change conversations with teens, check out Lighthouse Conversations here. Lighthouse Conversations is my way of making MI accessible for all those wishing to improve their communication and have more effective conversations with others. Lighthouse Conversations comes in book and e-Course formats.

Have a great day!!

Jennifer from NovoVia

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