Inadequacy in the Face of Resilience

Feb 03, 2021
Inadequacy in the Face of Resilience - Conversations Worth Having

Monday Kickstarters is a working session designed for everyone on the call to figure out how to have conversations worth having when faced with a tough situation or problem. The process is based upon the book, Conversations Worth Having.  You can listen live to this session on Vimeo.

Monday, February 1, 2021 was a great introductory session for the year. We discussed two topics. The first one offers insight into why it can be important to ask generative questions that may not sound positive because they invite people to share stories of pain and struggle. The second situation offered a perfect example of how to move from a problem/deficit-focus to a positive frame.

Inadequacy in the Face of Resilience

Someone on the call shared that she was facilitating an AI-framed workshop about resilience, which allowed for conversation among employees about moments of feeling proud in the past year and stories of past resilience. I also acknowledged the importance of the grieving process and how it’s important to give ourselves grace for where we are. We explored the topic of post-traumatic growth, too. In the post-session evaluation, one person wrote: “I sometimes struggle with the constant focus on the positive sides of the pandemic. It feels stressful. For those of us juggling a lot between jobs, children, taking care of parents, there is a sense of inadequacy.”  She wanted to know how to handle that.


If you listen to the video, you will see that the group struggled a bit to figure out what the focus of the conversation was. We landed on validation of experiences and feelings. The questions that arose around that frame naturally focused on validation. They included:

  • What supports do you need to feel validated?
  • What stories does the group want to share when they felt overwhelmed?
  • Think of a time you felt validated and tell us that story.
  • Who do you need validation from?
  • How are others managing the complex emotions of the pandemic?

In retrospect, the better question we might asked at the outset was: how to design a conversation that emphasizes the positive in a way that makes room for people’s feelings of pain, struggle or sense of inadequacy? When creating a frame, it’s important, to stay within the context of the original situation. Always good to check back and make sure that the conversation you end up having actually addresses the needs of the original topic or issue. In this case, the question for the facilitator was: How can you make sure people who are struggling feel validated in a conversation that ultimately talks about resilience?

A solution for this question: Sometimes it is as simple as asking a question or two at the outset, before you begin asking about moments of feeling proud and resilient in the face of constant stress. Those first couple questions might elicit stories of people’s genuine experience, giving them an opportunity to feel seen, heard, and validated. It gives them an opportunity to realize they’re not alone as they hear other people stories. This adds value: generates connection, trust, validation, value, worthiness. Such generative questions might be:

  • What has your experience been of managing in the face of the pandemic?
  • What have been your biggest challenges, your greatest sense of overwhelm?

Just those two simple questions are enough. Following that, it is much easier to ask, And in the face of it, you are still managing everything. As you think back over this year, with all the challenges you’ve managed, what have you been most proud of?  You might also close with a question that allows people to share what they most need in order to boost their resilience (three wishes or a magic wand).

Service Delivery is Disorganized

This situation offered the perfect example for using the Flipping technique to create a positive frame and then the questions just flowed from it!

  • Name it: The Communication Division’s service delivery is very disorganized.
  • Flip it: The Communication Division’s service delivery is organized and efficient.
  • Frame it: We have confidence in the Communication Division.

Just look at all the questions that emerged!

Additional questions from the chat included:

  • Which department has the best service delivery in the organization? [looking for positive deviance]
  • Do you have the information you need to service others?
  • How can we give prosocial and prompt feedback with teams?
  • How will we know that we have achieved organized and efficient communication?
  • How do we solicit feedback from our customers?
  • Think about a time you were part of a high functioning communication delivery service team…What did you and others value ? What roles did leaders take on to be efficient and organized?
  • When do you remember exceptional communication in our division?
  • Tell me a story when you felt proud of the division or your work here?

Many Possible Frames: There is never just one right frame for a conversation. Other suggestions from participants, which might also be valuable conversations included:

  • High Functioning Service Team organized and results driven
  • The communication division is able to handle any request that comes in
  • Stakeholders are satisfied
  • We have a division of communication excellence
  • High employee morale
  • Projects are completed
  • Information flows freely between departments

Sign up for our Free newsletter

Get valuable resources, information and events that spark curiosity and invite exploration into Conversations Worth Having.

You're safe with us. We will never spam you or sell your contact information.