Appreciative Inquiry

369f9a1Quite often, LinkedIn is a great source of information, resources, and thought-provoking posts by professionals engaged in the process of networking. I usually spend at least part of my Sunday reading through the week’s posts, commenting, curating, and collecting stuff in my “good in a workshop” file.

Today, this post from Joshua Freedman ended up in my inbox through LI, and I took the time to read it now because Bill and I had just had a discussion about curiosity for a course we’re working on.

We’ve been trying to put together another Udemy course, this one for people helping with resettling refugees into new lives, specifically in this case, Syrian refugees. Our years in the Middle East have given us a perspective and understanding of some of the challenges that might be encountered by everyone involved. We had quite a discussion with our director about how to get away from dichotomous “we/they” language. We did not want to offer solutions or suggestions from the place of separateness, but rather of collaboration and empathy.

Bill suggested that we structure the video series as “appreciative inquiry,” and look for metaphors and narratives that are common to being human. After much ‘argumentative progress’ he came up with a brilliant metaphor for the first video that resonated so strongly with me that I cried, really touched by the visual picture the metaphor he created to illustrate the experience of many refugees. (You’ll have to wait for the video to see what it is)

Today, reading Mr. Freedman’s article on curiosity and how reframing his thoughts from judgment to curiosity completely changed his emotional response to another’s behaviour, I was struck by the thought that this is the concept in psychology of ‘attributing benevolence.’ Or, as Carl Rogers puts it, offering Unconditional Positive Regard. By moving past his first critical thought to “something deeper” ~ Joshua tapped into a curiosity that offered an array of possible reasons for the observed behaviour ~ he was able to remain “free and light” within himself.

This is such an important facet of criticism and judgment overlooked by most. The habit of judging others is a reflection of our own inner landscape. When we are able to attribute benevolence to another’s words or actions through appreciative inquiry , we will experience a shift in the habit of self-judgment.

You get that, right? Just as it is impossible to give to others what we do not have for ourselves (name it… money, love, goodwill, mercy, truth…), what we do/say to others is a reflection of what we do/say to ourselves. If we were curious about our own motives for doing/saying anything, rather than judgmental or critical, everything would be different.

Everything.

Appreciative inquiry. Curiosity. Benevolence.

YOU must be the change you wish to see in the world.

~Mahatma Gandhi

Talk amongst yourselves...

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