How to: Help Someone Change
It’s so much easier to see how easy it would be for someone we know to change.
If they just listened to your advice, very good advice I’m sure, they would get things sorted.
Change doesn’t really come from good advice though. Most people know what they SHOULD do already.
A smoker knows it’s healthier to stop smoking, your friend might know their partner is bad news, or you might intend to exercise more, but change can be trickier than knowing these facts.
It’s the readiness to change combined with knowing how to go about it that really works.
Next time you’re trying to help someone out, listen to what’s underneath their words. What are they really saying? Motivational interviewing suggests that staying with where the person is at, and encouraging movement just one step further is more likely to realise change.
Most of us talk to people as if they are at the fourth step (action) when they may be at step one (pre-contemplation).
Step One – Pre-contemplation
Step Two – Contemplation
Step Three – Planning
Step Four – Action
Pre-contemplation is when other people may be thinking about a change for the person, but they don’t see the need.
Think of a smoker who enjoys smoking and feels annoyed if someone points out “it’s bad for you”.
Contemplation is where the person is beginning to consider reasons for change.
With our smoker example, they might be noticing how much they cough and have trouble breathing, and thoughts of change are developing.
Planning is where the person has some feeling of conviction that they’d like to change and they are beginning to put things in place to make the change be realised.
Booking an appointment for hypnosis to help them let go of smoking, deciding to exercise and letting their friends know they want support could be possible examples.
Action is essentially putting the plan into action.
If you are talking to someone at step one, you’d want to reflectively listen to what they say, “you don’t see any reason to change” type of statements. To which their mind may defend against and say some things about knowing “I know smoking is supposed to bad for me”.
You might also say, “I wonder why the people around you think it would be a good idea to let go of … smoking “.
Moving from contemplating to planning, you can reinforce the reasons they are beginning to see that change would be a good idea, and then join with questions about what they might be ready to plan. “What would be some first steps to letting go of smoking?” “What could you see yourself doing about letting go of smoking?’ Moving from planning to action is helping the person to make themselves accountable and realise the execution of their plan.
With each step, you want to stay in the step they are in reaffirming their position, and then introduce ideas of the next step. People are more likely to feel understood and let go of their defences when you do this and probably describe you as supporting the change process.
If you would like support in times of change, please feel free to contact us at Revive Health and Happiness.
By Lisa Irving