Just like the President I too am new to this new job (Blogging). I have had the opportunity of teaching and being taught by teens for many years. Over that time I have learned how to extrapolate information from those less willing to give it up. Why is this important? When we are communicating with others, whether it be causal or formal, we are looking for information. This is how motivational interviewing can come in handy.
Think about the last time you had an argument with a spouse or child. Did you find what you were looking for? Did you come to the conclusion that you set out to get? I bet you will find that during the argument it was filled with statements and empty threats followed by silence. Then after some time you talk and come to some type of agreement. After the silence comes a form of motivational interviewing. This is natural but not what I am talking about. I want to focus on the heat of the moment, the height of the emotion. This is when motivational interviewing is most needed.
Simply put motivational interviewing is asking open ended questions. Don’t ever ask a yes or no question. It is a conversation killer that will end communication and you will miss a prime opportunity to gather useful information. I would hear all the time this from the juvenile that I worked for “you don’t care about me”. I would respond like this “what about me makes you think I don’t care”? This is a prime example of an open ended question. This, without fail would throw the kid for a loop but it would ignite an emotional conversation that would dump tons of facts about this kid. Some times the response would be that I remind them of their dad because of the way I speak or the length of my beard. I had one kid tell me that the way i raise my voice reminded him of his grandfather that use to abuse him. Learning this information leads to more open ended questions and soon you have a juvenile pouring out their darkest secrets to you and all you did was ask simple questions that required more than a yes or no.
The beauty of motivational interviewing is that it works on everyone and the more skilled you become at it, the more you will be able to pull information out of a hurting person. This works with your own kids, parents or friends. It works on those in trouble, addicts and closed in people. Motivational interviewing is the #1 tool that I had in my tool box. This too can be a powerful tool for you as you try to learn and understand what your teen might be going through.
The next time you find yourself in the midst of a shut down person, try motivational interviewing skills and see what happens. I bet you will be surprised what you find. Just keep in mind that you have to keep your own emotions and actions in check because odds are that you may hear things you might not want to. Take that information and plug them into the puzzle and soon you will see the whole picture.