Appreciative Voice in Turbulent Times

Team BuildingThere is nothing more inspiring, and soothing to the soul, than a gathering of conscious people committed to leveraging their individual and collective voices, appreciative voices, for the greater good.

And, there is nothing more jarring than reading the headlines about the “Unite the Right” rally on Saturday, in Charlottesville, VA.  The escalated violence and subsequent death of an anti-right protester is yet another example of the widening divide within the United States.

How can we begin to hold space for Appreciative Conversations between people with such opposing world views?  How can we even begin to bridge those divides?

Also on Saturday, nearly 40 Appreciative Inquiry (AI) enthusiasts gathered in the lakeside city of Burlington, VT, on the campus of Champlain College.  The David Cooperrider AI Center and The Taos Institute for Social Constructionism were our generous hosts.

Knowing, “what we focus on grows”, we were very deliberate in our conversation topics.  So what can we do in turbulent times that can make a difference?  Here are some highlights from the gathering, intended to inspire action:

  1. Stay grounded
  2. Seek to understand – listen generously
  3. See past the rhetoric and strive to identify the need behind the behaviors
  4. Be aware of the power struggles at play
  5. Stop demonizing the “other” – we are all human
  6. Express what’s important to you and why
  7. Acknowledge the needs and find common ground
  8. Set a super ordinate goal to bring people together on higher ground

When emotions are high, this is easier said than done.  Starting the conversation with the extremes may not be realistic, but most of us fall closer to the middle, let’s begin the conversation there.  How can you lead with your Appreciative Voice today?