Communication tip: Agree, approve, praise
Did you know that agreeing, approving or praising someone could be a roadblock to communication?
We often teach Thomas Gordans 12 roadblocks in our Introduction to Motivational Interviewing course because to better understand how to communicate efficiently, it’s helpful to know what can create roadblocks in communication. Let’s dive deeper into why this could be a roadblock and how you can turn this roadblock into a communication tip!
When someone agrees with you, approves your method or praises you, they are subconsciously communicating their OWN values. And guess what happens if you disagree with their values or ideas and they praise you. You are going to most likely feel some discord or resistance. Plus once you know where a person stands on a topic, that can lead you to avoidance.
Let’s look at an example from the addiction field.
Teen: “Yeah I think I’m going to quit smoking, it’s not that healthy for me. I threw away my pack.”
Counselor: “That’s great to hear. I’m proud of you for making that decision. You will feel much better in the long run.”
1 week later-Teen picks up smoking again. Thinks to themselves, “I don’t want to run into that counselor again, I don’t want to explain why I’m smoking, when they clearly don’t think smoking is good for anyone.”
Although good intentioned, we’ve created a dynamic filled with avoidance and resistance. No one wants to feel like they’ve disappointed someone else.
Where we can choose to communicate differently is if we keep ourselves and where we stand, out of the conversation. We can learn to communicate praise from the other persons values rather than our own value system. Here’s what that might look like.
Teen: “Yeah, I think I’m going to quick smoking. It’s not that healthy for me. I threw away my pack.”
Counselor: “Wow, you’ve realized your health is a priority. You’re committed to feeling better and being the best version of yourself.”
Do you see how instead of praising them for that decision, we re-enforce their OWN Values, keeping our thoughts and ideas out of the mix. This allows them to stay focused on their own thoughts or ideas, rather than creating a dynamic of discord if they fall off the wagon.
Communication solution: Next time you feel the urge to praise someone for the decision they’ve made. Slow down, avoid using “I” and focus more on their own realization, their values and what this change means for them.