This week’s conversation is with Dr. Stephen Rollnick, the co-founder of Motivational Interviewing.

The Motivational Interviewing style, strategies and skills have been used to address a wide range of challenges, including those very tough conversations in which there seems little hope of making progress in helping people.

I doubt there’s many of us that enjoy having these difficult conversations, but what if there was a better approach to getting the outcome you wanted in these moments?

Stephen has found that when conversations about change go poorly, it’s because the more you try to insert information and advice into others, the more they tend to back off and resist.

Understanding optimal ways to communicate with one another is at the heart of this conversation

Motivational Interviewing can be used to enhance your ability to listen with skill in any situation, and to help people, young and old, to adapt and to develop their potential.

Its use has spread into health care, criminal justice, education and most recently into sport.

I hope it makes a difference for you.

“Instead of trying to persuade people why or how they should change, it’s far better to create a conversation in which they do it for themselves.”

In This Episode:

  • Growing up in South Africa, being immersed in the world of clinical psychology, focused on addiction treatment
  • Having a very traumatic experience while training to be a nurse… saw patient shoot his wife and then kill himself
  • Leaving South Africa at 23, exiled and arriving in London
  • Finding work in the addictions field of clinical psychology and the aha moment of his career
  • Why Motivational Interviewing is about finding the right combination of directing and empathy
  • Learning about risk taking and courage from his parents
  • Does he believe people are fundamentally good or bad?
  • Why he believes curiosity is the foundation for empathizing
  • The different aspects of empathetic listening
  • How can you help a coach develop better connections with the players so that they feel comfortable and safe?
  • The difference between praising someone and affirmations
  • How to apply Motivational Interviewing to parenting
  • What he would ask another master of craft
  • His experience with imposter syndrome


Listen via: Apple Podcasts | Android | SpotifyStitcher | Pocket Casts |  RSS



“The harder you try and persuade someone to change, the more likely you are to get kick back.”

“Curiosity is the foundation for empathizing. You are wondering about what’s going on outside you so it’s possible for you to imagine and experience what other people are experiencing.”

“It one thing to experience empathy, but it’s a skill when you try and translate that experience into something you say to somebody that makes them feel that you’re connected to them.”

“Empathy is described as an experience you have of standing in someone else’s shoes and there’s a second stage which is that you can make an empathic listening statement that cements the empathic connection between you and the person you’re speaking with.”

“Within a relationship, if both parties can get to feel comfortable in their own skin, it can fire the most incredible creative energy.”

“Motivational Interviewing was designed to solve problems, but I think its potential is far greater to help people grow and change.”

“My advice to parents, spend your energy on connecting with your kids, on helping them to recognizing their strengths, affirming them, rather than praising them. Listen to them and you’re going to get better outcomes, you’re going to get fewer behavioral problems.”

“I’m really fascinated by what is it in a teacher that really grips children and helps them to grow.”


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Stephen Rollnick provides consultancy, mentorship and training on the subjects of motivation, change, teamwork and motivational interviewing. He's an Honorary Distinguished Professor in the School of Medicine in Cardiff University, Wales, UK.