Context is Huge

Mar 21, 2024
Close up image of a shark's huge face swimming in the water symbolizing how visual and auditory cues set context for creating a positive frame.

It’s "Guess the Movie" time here at Conversations Worth Having. Here are your clues: It’s summer break on Amity Island, a fictional location off the coast of Massachusetts. Two teens frolic in the ocean. Two musical notes, E and F, foreshadow the terrifying events to come from the evil lurking in the deep. What’s the movie? You guessed it: Jaws. Those memorable visual and auditory cues set the context for the iconic movie.

Context is vital for a movie and equally vital when creating a positive frame as it broadens our perspective, providing us with deeper understanding. Before embarking on creating a positive frame, this week’s Monday Kickstarters group asked generative questions to better understand the context of a challenging situation. The generative questions included:

  • What's the bigger context for this?
  • What don't you know? What else might explain the person's actions?
  • What assumptions might the group be making? 

As important background information gradually surfaced, an insightful participant noted, “Context is huge.” Read on to discover a positive frame and generative questions that can be used in any leadership situation.

Positive Frame

Name it: A minister overstepped his authority and created disharmony within the lay leadership team.

Flip it: The minister operates within his role and leadership is harmonized.

Frame it: We are in this together, and respect and care for each other is apparent as we co-create.

Other Suggested Frames

  • We are excited about collaborating, and create uplifting opportunities for the congregation.
  • The congregation will create and collaborate harmoniously.
  • We are the change we want to see.

Generative Questions

Once the frame was in place, the group crafted generative questions that could create a conversation worth having, one that works for everyone involved.

Questions for the Lay Leadership Team
  • When we have collaborated successfully with new ministers before, what did we do? What conditions made that possible?
  • If you were moving to another country to become a minister, what would you bring to the table?
 Questions for the Minister
  • When does work feel most meaningful for you?
  • What aspects of our collaborative style of ministry drew you to join us?
 Questions for the Minister and the Lay Leadership Team
  • Talk about a time when co-creating and collaborating brought you joy?
  • Who else (or what other churches) does this well?
  • How can we model the way?
  • What do we need to put aside to move forward together?
  • When you hear “co-create” what does that mean to you?
  • What has gone right in this relationship/experience so far? What made those times successful?
  • How can we tune in to a deep sense of purpose?

Cool Tip!

To mindfully consider the context of a challenging situation, it is helpful to tune-in. Tuning-in allows for self-and other awareness, provides you an opportunity to choose how you respond in any situation and puts you in the driver’s seat of interactions (Stavros and Torres, 2022).

Stavros, J., & Torres, C. (2022).  Conversations worth having. Using appreciative inquiry to fuel productive and meaningful engagement. Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc.

Monday Kickstarters

This topic came from our Spring 2024 Monday Kickstarters series, working sessions to figure out how to have a conversation worth having when faced with a tough situation, challenge, or problem with leadership or performance. If you have a tough situation you’d like to reframe or want to join us to continue your CWH practice, register here.

Shared by: Sylvette Wake, a certified Conversations Worth Having and Strategic Conversations Facilitator.
Image by Andrea Bohl from Pixabay


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