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November 2023 Brown Bag Session

November 2023 Brown Bag Session

Professional Communication and Motivational Interviewing

The Staff Development Committee of the University Classified Staff Council (UCSC) presented “Communication and Motivational Interviewing” as the initial Brown Bag Session, on November 7, 2023. 

Isaac Mancillas, project manager with UTP Health Transformation Initiatives, led the presentation, which provided solid information on communication styles, specifically in the workplace and other professional settings, along with the concept of motivational interviewing as a communication tool.

So, why is effective communication essential?

The first reason is that it boosts morale, productivity, satisfaction, and engagement. It improves team cooperation and collaboration, which drives higher results for teams, individuals, and UTHealth Houston.

An important point made by Mancillas was that “research shows that companies in the US lost 62.4 million dollars per year on average due to poor communication in contrast to companies lead by effective communications had nearly 50% higher total returns”.

What is effective communication?

It is creating a shared understanding with coworkers, students, and staff. Professional communication pays close attention to four concepts: informing, instructing, requesting, and persuading.  The keys to good communication can be characterized as the 5 C’s to communication:

  • Clear
  • Correct
  • Complete
  • Concise
  • Compassionate

Where do you start?

These are a few questions to guide you in achieving the 5 C’s.

  • To whom are you communicating?
  • What is the message I am trying to send and what am I trying to achieve?
  • Why do I want to send this message and do I need to send it at all?
  • What do I want my audience to feel?
  • What does my audience need or desire from this message?
  • What do I want my audience to do with the information?

Key to developing effective communication is the knowledge that it is a learned skill, which changes, adapts, and evolves encompassing continued learning. Other benefits of understanding that the skill is learned are personal and professional growth, experience, and competence. Everyone has a communication style and it’s important to individuals and the organization that we learn to appreciate the variety of communication styles.  Learning how to communicate in all styles is beneficial to the organization.  Communication is a two-way street.  Effective communication requires that you know the styles of the sender and receiver. The blend of styles ensures new ideas and energy for the team or institution. Paying attention to style differences with training, feedback, and discussion will ensure an adequate understanding. No one style is better than the other. The different styles are identified as follows:

  • The Director
  • The Socializer
  • The Thinker
  • The Relator

Mancillas moved to the next portion of the program by asking, “What is Motivational Interviewing (MI)?

Motivational interviewing is a person-centered guiding communication style for enhancing someone’s desire to communicate, engage in change, and ignite behavioral activation. It brings together good listening and sharing. MI empowers people to communicate and engage by drawing out their meanings, capacities, and importance to the subject matter. Conversely, motivational interviewing is based on a respectful and curious way of being with people, facilitating communication, and honoring a person’s autonomy. Motivational interviewing requires the four essential skills of communication and they strengthen the process. The four core motivational interviewing skills of OARS are:

  • Open-ended questions
  • Affirming
  • Reflective listening
  • Summarizing

Mancillas left with the parting thought on effective professional communication. Always prioritize the University and the departmental policies. Remember to follow guidelines when it comes to PHI and HIPPA.


UCSC Brown Bag sessions are professional development opportunities, generally held over the lunch hour, that cover topics ranging from health, to technology, to work-life balance, and much more. Sessions are held throughout the year.

For more information or to suggest topics, visit us at

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