After a short preamble about my excitement at achieving episode 75 in my podcast – which is a milestone – and a quick update on my summer, I tell a story about demonstrating the power of positive questions as a way to bring different perspectives into a topic . Many of you know that I’m an adjunct professor at Champlain College in Burlington, VT. I'm a very proud faculty member of the David L. Cooperrider Center for Appreciative Inquiry teaching in the online Positive Organization Development (POD) course which is part of the Continuing Education MBA program. I teach Advanced Applications of Appreciative Inquiry. My students are working full time in jobs from all over the US and also overseas. I love it and they love it too.
Positive Questions Expand our Perspective
The topic we focus on is “trust.”
My students were keen to talk about “trust” in their organizations. They felt there was more “distrust” than “trust.” As we dived into the topic more, we explored the role of organizational culture, leadership, leaders' styles, communications, teamwork, the relevance or not of geographic location, relationship dynamics, values, behaviors, and so on.
Appreciative Inquiry Interview on “Deepening Trust”
Below is the interview that I invited one of my students to participate in during the call to demonstrate the power of positive questions in this Appreciative Inquiry interview format. You will hear this in the episode.
You can feel, hear, and see an open, trustworthy environment when you enter it. People are friendly, interested, busy, upbeat, smiling, and open with each other. They will tell you that they are listened to; their ideas count; they have policies, processes, and systems that help them do good work. They give and receive timely feedback, they encourage each other to be creative, be different, and demonstrate their own leadership at all times.
- When have you felt both trust and trusted in life? Think of a time when you have experienced real trust in a relationship. It may have been at work, or at home or in a sports team. What was that like? Tell the story what was going on? Who was involved? What was said? What behaviors were evident? What emotions did you feel?
- How did you contribute in this story of “trust” in a way that you're proud of?
- What do you appreciate about how the others participated. What did they say/feel/do?
- If you had a magic wand and had three wishes about building trust in your current situation, what would they be?
After the interview, the student felt that she could easily do this with her own team at work to begin to re-build trust. She said how the interview reconnected her with her time of experiencing trust in the past and boosted her confidence because she's been there before. It was clear her energy had shifted and she was excited to use these questions so she can re-create this experience for her colleagues.
A Gift for you: Appreciative Inquiry Interview on Resilience
As another example of positive questions, here's an Appreciative Inquiry Interview on the topic of Being Resilient in PDF format that you can immediately apply without reproducing a thing.
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You will reconnect with a time when you experienced being resilient or witnessed resilience in another. In acknowledging your own experiences, you will find strengths that will help you recognise what capacities and resources you have that will support you to build resilience for any potential set-backs.
Links to Other Examples of Positive Questions
Here are other examples in different contexts. Each post has a list of questions you might find helpful:
Appreciative Inquiry for Collaborative Solutions: 21 Strength-based Workshops
In my book, you'll find “how-tos” and examples of positive questions in workshop formats that will help you engage in conversations to open up perspectives on topics of significant relevance today.
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