What CAN we do?

Feb 26, 2018

“We were in a meeting to talk about how we could help the homeless.  Before long, the conversation was spiraling down the hopeless hole of overwhelm.  There were so many problems and so many reasons why we couldn’t do this and couldn’t do that. Every time anyone mentioned a suggestion, there were ten reasons why that idea was not a possibility. The energy was evaporating; it was like someone let all the air out of the room!” Sue was telling me about one of her first meetings with her church group that was committed to helping the homeless.

She went on, “I finally stopped the conversation and asked, ‘Well, what CAN we do?’” Sue shared that the conversation slowly started to turn.  Suggestions for who they could call to open doors led to the discovery that one person had already called a city official and gotten a maybe.  A couple others said they’d call that same person to encourage the maybe to become a yes. Sue’s eyes brightened as she recalled, “It was like magic. You could feel the energy come back in the room. Ideas started flowing, and people got excited about taking action!”

That was many months ago. That group has now made much progress and is exploring the possibility of micro paycheck loans and finance training.  “It’s not easy,” said Sue. “This can be a challenging population. And yet, we are moving forward, continuously asking ourselves, What can we do? every time we are faced with what feels like unending obstacles. It always changes our conversation!”

What Sue was practicing was Appreciative Inquiry. The art of asking questions that add value and generate possibility. Asking generative questions moves group towards what they want or the outcome they hope for. It results in a conversation worth having.

“I wish I’d known about Appreciative Inquiry when I was the Dean of Students,” Sue reflects. “I would have staff come in and melt down in my office. They would go on and on with major problems and so many reasons why nothing would help.  Now, I would ask them: What would you like to have happen? Or What would it be like if it was working? What a different conversation we would have had!”

Learn more about how to shift negative conversations in our book, Conversations Worth Having available May 22 at your favorite bookstore! Pre-order today at Amazon.

Question for you: What do you do to change a negative or downward spiraling interaction into a conversation worth having? Please comment so others can learn from you!


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.