From Adam Grant’s book Think Again.”

In the early 1980 a clinical psychologist named Bill Miller was troubled by his field’s attitude toward people with addictions. It was common for therapists and counselors to accuse their substance-abusing clients of being pathological liars who were living in denial. That didn’t track with what Miller was seeing up close in his own work treating people with alcohol problems, where preaching and prosecuting typically boomeranged. “People who drink too much are usually aware of it,” Miller told me. “If you try to persuade them that they do drink too much or need to make a change, you evoke resistance, and they are less likely to change.”

Instead of attacking or demeaning his clients, Miller started asking them questions and listening to their answers. Motivational interviewing starts with an attitude of humility and curiosity. We don’t know what might motivate someone else to change, but we’re genuinely eager to find out. The goal isn’t to tell people what to do; it’s to help them break out of overconfidence cycles and see new possibilities. our role is to hold up a mirror so they can see themselves more clearly, and then empower them to examine their beliefs and behaviors. That can activate a rethinking cycle, in which people approach their own views more scientifically. They develop more humility about their knowledge, doubt in their convictions and curiosity about alternative points of view.

The process of motivational interviewing involves three key techniques:

  • Asking open-ended questions
  • Engaging in reflective listening
  • Affirming the person’s desire and ability to change

Listening well is more than a matter of talking less. It’s a set of skills in asking and responding. It starts with showing more interest in other people’s interests rather than trying to judge their status or prove our own. We can all get better at asking “truly curious questions that don’t have the hidden agenda of fixing, saving, advising, convincing or correcting,” journalist Kate Murphy writes, and helping to “facilitate the clear expression of another persons thoughts.”

Many communicators try to make themselves look smart. Great listeners are more interested in making their audiences feel smart.

What if you took this approach in your conversations with your players? Would you get more out of them? Would it make you a better coach?