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When I was in school I knew two girls who played piano. They were both skilled. They could play sheet music they had never seen before. They played more complex pieces than the average student.

One was pretty much note perfect, her skill was impressive. But I didn’t feel much when she played. It was a series of very skilled, very competent notes, one after the other.

The other made a lot more mistakes. Missed notes, timings slipping in and out of sync. And yet… she played with her whole heart and I loved to listen to her. He music was so richly expressive, there was something almost magical about it.

When I look back, there was a wonderful freedom in how she played. She wasn’t good despite the mistakes, but because of her willingness to make them. She was immersed in the music, rather than being too focused on the technical execution.

Like piano, there are core skills we need in an MI conversation. We can’t do MI without them and they take time and attention to develop.

We just don’t want to mistake the notes for the music. Technically competent MI conversations are not always good conversations. The techniques can end up being in the foreground and somehow the spirit is lost.

At its heart, MI is about two humans connecting with each other to explore one person’s dilemmas and discover what matters most to them. The skills are there to help us navigate these complex interactions but we don’t want to be so focused on technique that we lose our connection with the person in front of us.

The music is more important than the notes.

“I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” Maya Angelou