I believe one of the biggest (aka "most important") part of healthcare, or really any profession that deals with people on a daily basis, is having the ability to motivate someone to take action. Rather than going in depth on the neuroscience behind decision making, here are a few main points dealing with motivating others.
*Note- most of these tips are directed towards physical therapists, but can be applied to others professionals.
A Matter Of Motivation
- I can't assume just because I'm in a white lab coat, or have 17 degrees after my name, that my patient/client will be motivated me if I simply show up
- Get the patient/client talking about themselves! "What's YOUR goal? What are YOUR concerns?"
- Relate the treatment back to what the patient/client wants to return to. "This will help you ________ better"
- Goal should be to no longer be seen as a "burden" to the patient/client, but rather someone on THEIR side!
- The desire to change ultimately has to come from the patient/client
- Step OUT of the EXPERT role when talking with a patient/client
- Start the conversation by talking about their goals/concerns; NOT by telling them what to do
- We're not leading, nor are we dragging them along; we're on this journey TOGETHER
- Don't be "just another person that lectures me about what I need to do."
- Establish a HUMAN CONNECTION
- What matters most is the bottom line message: conversation, cooperation, and mutual understanding between the patient/client and professional will lead to change much more easily than direct persuasion (aka "pressure")
- Get in tune with what motivates our patients/clients. What situations will they be motivated in?
- ***Using a "on a scale of 1-10" question regarding a patient/client motivation level, rather than asking the follow up question of "why isn't your number higher?" follow up with the question of "why isn't your number lower?" This technique helps to get the patient/client specifically listing out all the POSITIVE reasons why they want to make a change. Asking the follow up question of "why isn't your number higher" forces the patient/client to think about NEGATIVE reasons for why they aren't more motivated to take action.
- We can prescribe all we want, but unless the end results is relevant to the person, the patient/client will not do it!
- For a program to stick, it has to fit into a person's daily routine. Patients/clients need to see WHY they're doing what you told them to and they need to see that you're going to try and help them meet THEIR goals
- Again, establish the human connection before you try to offer an exercise program
- Physical therapists have only begun adopting behavior change techniques- be one of the early ones to make this change!
- In the end, it's CONVERSATION that empowers and motivates patients/clients. ASK the right QUESTIONS and then provide the tools/information needed to take action. If you do this, the patient/client will create change!
Hopefully a few of these were able to impact the way you interact with your patients/clients for the better. For the entire article (must be an APTA member), click here. For a great podcast, check out the British Journal of Sports Medicine podcast here and choose the podcast "23.5 hours to behavior change."
Keep making it happen!