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Using Intervention Styles To Help Others

In your business and personal life you often need to help, support, advise or offer your expertise to others. A very useful model to use in these situations is the Heron model of six categories of intervention. It was developed to be used in the helping professions but is very relevant to the business world as well.

This model can help you to understand the different interventions available to you when supporting others, it can help you to use a wider range of interventions and also to improve the way you interact with others.

The six categories of intervention that Heron identified are:

Authoritative interventions

Confronting. This is about being challenging and providing direct feedback in a positive and constructive way to increase the other person's awareness of their own behaviour and attitude (e.g. I notice when you discuss your workload you always sound stressed).

Informing. This is about giving information or knowledge and your view and experience in order to help the other person gain a better understanding (e.g. There is some very good information that will help you in this book).

Prescribing. This is about advising, offering an opinion and seeking to directly influence the other person (e.g. You need to speak to your business partner about the problems you are having with your suppliers).

Facilitative interventions

Catalytic. This is about asking questions to encourage self directed problem solving and to enable learning through self discovery to help the other person to reflect, discover and learn for themselves (e.g. What would make you feel more confident when making a presentation?).

Supportive. This is about supporting the other person and building their confidence through approval, confirmation and validation (e.g. It sounds like you have tried very hard but are finding this problem very difficult to resolve).

Cathartic. This is about encouraging the other person to express emotions and release tension and empathising with them (e.g. What do you really feel about the situation that you are in?).

The best style of intervention to use will depend on who you are interacting with and the individual circumstances e.g. in an emergency type situation you may want to be very prescriptive, whereas where you are trying to coach a member of staff to work more independently you may want to use catalytic and supportive interventions.

It may be useful to look at your own favoured styles of intervention and consider whether you would benefit from using other styles more often or in certain circumstances. You may find that you avoid certain intervention styles because you are not comfortable with them. These may be areas for learning. You may want to practice using other styles to expand your repertoire.

The intervention styles can also be used to reflect back on your individual relationships in your business and personal life. Did you use the most appropriate intervention style at the right time? What impact did your intervention style have on the other person? This will help you with improving the relationships going forward.

I hope that this article has got you thinking about how you support, help and interact with other people.

Author: Liz Makin
Published: September 2008

Makin It Happen has a range of personal development online courses to purchase, created by Liz Makin, including communication, resilience, time management, stress management and coaching. Liz Makin also provides personalised business coaching, business mentoring and stress management services to business owners, directors, managers and professionals.


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