One of the keys to successful Motivational Interviewing and Health Coaching overall is active listening. Patient’s need to feel heard, understood, and respected throughout the partnership with their clinician. This will allow them to feel included in the process and empowered to take control of their behavior change.
Active Listening involves truly listening. Listening to absorb what is being said. Listening to understand, rather than to respond. It will be a hard transition as most practitioners are used to working from their agenda and leading the conversation, rather than partnering with clients/patients and allowing them to lead. But, by stopping to really listen to the patient, it allows a trusting partnership to form.
Practice makes perfect! So, if you really want to become an active listener, start by entering into a conversation with someone you know and pay attention to whether you are really listening or if you are listening to respond. After they have finished speaking, verbalize back to them what you heard, and have them evaluate your active listening and retention skills.
Avoid distractions while working on your active listening, whether with a friend or once you have incorporated this into your practice. Background noise, music, etc. can really affect your ability to focus on what is being said and it can hurt your retention. Keep practicing and see what you can do to sharpen your skills!