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3 Ways to Get Your Co-Workers to Make the Change

by Megan Sherman, Health & Wellness Educator

New Year’s health habits may have started to fade with your co-workers, but you still hear chatter about wanting to be healthy. Ambivalence is the state where people talk about change, but they also talk about staying just where they are with their habits. As a Wellness Champion, it’s confusing. What can you do to help move your co-workers from being wishy-washy to being willing to take a healthier step?

People in the ambivalent state need three things that you, as a Wellness Champion, are perfectly suited to deliver:

  • Get them to argue for why they don’t want to change. It seems backwards, but sometimes when you ask people to campaign for their bad habits, they start to see they really are capable (and desire) something different.
  • “OARS” you listening? OARS is an acronym to help you in your responses while talking with co-workers who are ambivalent.

Open-ended questions – Avoid the yes/no questions in order to evoke more details from them or to prevent leading them in the conversation about their health habits.

[Open-ended] What is your biggest health priority right now?

[Close-ended] You care about your health, right?

Affirmation – Affirmations build confidence. Affirmations are positive statements about one’s character or values that also highlight their strengths or efforts1.

Reflection – Reflecting on what you hear from your co-workers not only conveys that you are listening to them, but it can also make them hear what they are saying outwardly. Sometimes we say things and our actions don’t line up, but we don’t know that until we have someone (kindly) reflect it back to us.

Summarize – Summarizing is a great way to pause the conversation and let your co-workers know you are listening. Similar to reflection, summarizing allows you to communicate what you hear your co-workers saying, but also wraps the conversation together. It’s a CliffsNotes version of your conversation.

  • That DARN CAT. This is another acronym to remember. This one guides you in knowing where someone is in terms of readiness to change.

D- Desire

A- Ability

R- Reason

N- Need

These all convey a sense of preparation or determination. Your primary task is to talk through strategies with your co-workers so they will want to move toward change.

C- Commitment

A- Activation

T- Taking steps/action

These statements mean your co-workers are taking action (or are just about to!). You can assist them by being encouraging, helping them plan for barriers (or removing barriers when you can) and being helpful in the change/strategy.