What You’ll Learn Today:

  1. Get your partner to think it’s their idea using a great tool called Motivational Interviewing
  2. What resistance looks like and how to overcome it

Top Take-A-Ways:

There’s an awesome tool that we counselors use to deal with resistant and defensive clients and motivate them to make critical changes; It’s called Motivational Interviewing (MI) and it’s based on the work of William Miller and Stephen Rollnick. I’ve been teaching “regular” people (like you) to use MI concepts so they can be effective in dealing with conflict in their everyday relationships.

The first thing we need to discuss is resistance because you’re not going to resolve a conflict in a healthy way if you don’t deal with the resistance first.

What is Resistance?

How do you know if someone is being resistant?  There are four general categories of resistant behavior with clear signs (once you know what to look for):

  1. Arguing (challenging, discounting, hostility)
  2. Interrupting (talking over, cutting off, other person jumping into the conversation in a defensive manner)
  3. Denying (blaming, disagreeing, excusing, minimizing, pessimism, reluctance, unwillingness to change)
  4. Ignorance (inattention, non-answer, no response, sidetracking)

If you see ANY of these behaviors, the conversation is going nowhere fast. You’re in a power struggle and you need to shift the energy. The first thing to do is to notice that it’s happening (there’s that pesky self-awareness I keep talking about again). The second thing to do is… something else!

When you find yourself in conflict (dealing with resistance) with someone, here are the tools to move it forward.

Rowing Yourself Happy:

I want you to think of the acronym OARS and gear your conversation in this way:

  • Open-ended questions
  • Affirm and support
  • Reflective Listening
  • Summarize

Open-Ended Questions:

  • These are questions you can’t answer with “yes,” “no,” “fine,” or “good”
  • Examples: “What do you think we could do to improve this situation?” “Where should we take this conversation next?”  “What’s the perfect thing I could say that would let you know I care about what you’re saying?”


Affirmations are all the supportive words that make us feel warm and gooey inside. The key here is that you have to be sincere. You have to come up with affirmations you believe. Tell the other person the good/healthy things you see them doing or saying or what you appreciate about them.

Reflective Listening

This is the hardest concept to grasp but, once you do, it’ll come naturally. Basically, reflective listening means that you take a guess at what the other person is really saying (their true meaning) in the form of a statement, NOT a question.


  • This is when you summarize what you heard and you do take a guess.
  • “What I hear you saying is….”

A healthy and lively dialogue moves between all four styles. For example, you might start off on a positive note with an affirmation and then ask an open-ended question, and then move to a summarizing statement. Then you might ask another open-ended question and switch to reflective listening. The key is to be self-aware and take your time. Your relationships are worth it.

Anybody can have an incredible relationship with the right tools. Get started building a life and relationship you love with your FREE Communication Tool Kit for Couples.
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