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Motivational Interviewing

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“Motivational Interviewing” is a communication style that fosters collaboration and offers you as an advocate a package of skills to collaborate with anyone, especially “difficult people.” As a well-regarded professional approach Motivational Interviewing has thirty years of research across many fields and more than 1,000 studies demonstrating its effectiveness. This training will show you how to use Motivational Interviewing to more effectively connect with your members of Congress, local leaders, or even members of your own CCL group. 

TOC and Guide Section
PACE: The spirit of Motivational Interviewing

The underlying theory of change beneath Motivational Interviewing is that people change when change serves their values. Motivational Interviewing offers tested methods that motivate collaborative action! Motivational Interviewing also offers several helpful mnemonics to help frame and remember some of the key components of its collective approach. This training will pass on three key concepts, beginning with PACE, which embodies the spirit of Motivational Interviewing and stands for:

  • Partnership of Equals
  • Acceptance
  • Compassion
  • Evocation


  • Absolute Worth
  • Accurate Empathy
  • Autonomy Support
  • Affirm Them
When attitudes interfere with the spirit of acceptance, they create what is called “emotional leakage,” where they partner can detect a lack of acceptance. 


  • Learn and show you care about their values.
  • Where to look? The news, online information, prior lobby notes, fellow community members
  • Think about shared values (i.e. for a conservative it might be individual liberty, energy freedom, economic security or job growth).


  • Evoke your partner’s wisdom about change (Socratic approach.)
  • People are best persuaded by their own reasons.
  • Visit the “Hokey Pokey Clinic” (i.e. get your partner to turn themselves around).
  • See them as your partner.
  • Find reasons to like them.
  • Find common values.

The Four Processes

Engage: Establish a working relationship.

Focus: Clarify the agenda.

Evoke: Elicit their reasons for change.

Plan: Develop and commit to a plan of action.

Core Skills: OARS
  • Open-ended questions
  • Affirmations
  • Reflective Listening
  • Summaries

Open Dialogue with Open Questions

Closed:  Will you support the Energy Innovation Act?

Open:  How much do you know about our bill?

When forming questions, use the 6 W’s: Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How

Affirm them and spotlight their:

  • Abilities
  • Strengths
  • Efforts
  • Values
  • Intentions

Use recognition (noting) rather than praise (evaluating)

Reflectively Listen

Paraphrase back to them, showing nonjudgmental understanding of:

  • Their thoughts and feelings
  • Both pros and cons
  • Both stated and implied

Periodically summarize:

  • The problem as they see it
  • Options they like and why.
  • Agreements and follow-up plans.
OARS Practice Activity

Advocate: you are in a conversation with someone of your choosing (your partner) and trying to evoke a dialogue about climate solutions.

Partner: play the role your advocate describes for four minutes.

Observer: during the short activity count the number of times the advocate used any of the four O, A, R and S approaches. Share what you felt worked and offer one suggestion

Engage in Change Talk: DARN CAT

Evoking “change talk” (their reasons for change) follows the acronym DARN CAT

  • Change talk is talk that argues for change.
  • It predicts change.
  • Talk the talk before walking the walk.
Increasing Change Talk
  • Desire: their wants and desires for change.
  • Ability: their abilities, and means to change.
  • Reasons: their reasons to change.
  • Need: Their need to change.
  • Commitment: what they say they will do to change.
  • Activation: willingness to start the change.
  • Taking Steps: steps they have taken or are taking.

Planning Ahead Questions

Summarize and make your ask:

Would you be willing to ____?

Who can we follow up with?

What information would be helpful?

Could we offer you information on ____?

Set the stage for more collaboration!

Practice Activity

Advocate:  Ask DARN CAT questions to increase change talk in your conversation about the Energy Innovation Act. 

Partner: Play the role of someone who is ambivalent about the Energy Innovation Act for four minutes

Observer: actively listen to give a count of the number of times the advocate used an approach within DARN CAT and then share what you felt worked while offering one suggestion.

Press play to start the video (45m 31s)
Video Outline
To skip ahead to a specific section go to the time indicated in parenthesis.

Introductions and Overview
(from beginning)

What Is Motivational Interviewing?

The Spirit of Motivational Interviewing (PACE)

Core Skills: OARS

Live Role-Play Demonstration

Next Steps

Dr. David Christian

Download PowerPoint or Google Slides presentation.

Download the video.
Audio length
Press play to start the audio (45m 31s)
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Audio Outline
To skip ahead to a specific section go to the time indicated in parenthesis.

Introductions and Overview
(from beginning)

What Is Motivational Interviewing?

The Spirit of Motivational Interviewing (PACE)

Core Skills: OARS

Live Role-Play Demonstration

Next Steps

Dr. Dave Christian
Discussion Topic
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Training Resources

Motivational Interviewing book

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