Conversations That Build Trust and Create Pathways of Success

Jun 08, 2023

In the May 17, 2023 Inc. Magazine article, How Effective Leaders Have Courageous Conversations, Moshe Engelberg, PhD. states, “It takes real courage to overcome the resistance, trust the process, and make the conversations happen.” Leaders need to create a culture that makes courageous conversations safe.  

One of this week’s Kickstarter participants raised an issue addressing trust challenges.  The group identified a positive frame and created generative questions that would encourage others to engage in meaningful conversations. You may find it helpful as you build trust in your organization.

Positive Frame #1

Name it:  Broken trust between leader and team members.

Flip it: Trust between the leader and the team members.

Frame it: Team members feel safe to share honest conversations about challenges and opportunities.

 Other suggested frames:

  • We would have a team where everybody feels safe.
  • People would speak directly to each other and assume positive intent.
  • Greater understanding of leaderships' concerns, greater sense of collaboration.

Generative Questions

Once the frame was in place, the group created generative questions that would create a conversation in which everyone would want to participate. 

  • What does it mean to feel safe? When do you feel safe?
  • What gains would we see if we trust each other more?
  • When have you felt safe in our conversations and culture?
  • What has helped you to be honest about challenges?
  • What might explain the broken trust in the team?
  • What does safe space look like for you?
  • What does trust look like to our team?
  • How can leaders effectively communicate their concerns and objectives?
  • What actions are causing team members to feel unsafe?
  • What are teams with a high level of trust doing?
  • Tell us about a time when you had trust with leadership and what that looked like?
  • How will trusting each other help us to have higher productivity?
  • In our meetings, when do we feel most engaged and trusting of self? What is going on?

The second topic addressed how a school administrator might have a conversation with a parent who was upset with her child’s performance and blamed the new curriculum on it.  We spent a few minutes hanging out in the “Name It” part of the flipping technique to best understand the school administrator’s insights about the issue.

Positive Frame #2

Name it:  Parent is upset with the new curriculum.

Flip it: The parent is not upset with the new curriculum.

Frame it: Parents would see the value in the curriculum as a pathway to student success.

 Other suggested frames:

  • The parent focuses on how to best understand how to help their child succeed.
  • Parents understand the new curriculum and what it is designed to do.
  • The parent sees the value/merits of the new curriculum.
  • Parents understand and are supportive of the new curriculum.

Generative Questions 

Once the frame was in place, the group thought of generative questions that would create a conversation that everyone would want to participate in. 

  • What kinds of curriculum activities helped your child to succeed so far?
  • What are the strengths of this curriculum?
  • When have you noticed progress in your child’s learning?
  • What would you like to know about the new curriculum?
  • How does the curriculum best help our students learn and grow?
  • What is it specifically about the curriculum that is causing unrest now?
  • What aspects of the curriculum have been helpful so far?
  • What parents are supportive of the curriculum? Why is that?
  • What would you like to be included in the curriculum that might help your child specifically?
  • How have changes in curriculum this past year benefitted your child?
  • What categories of the curriculum are aligned with serving your child’s needs?
  • What research supports this curriculum?
  • What does success look like to you?
  • What kinds of learning activities were your favorite as a child?
  • What has the student learned because of this curriculum? What are the benefits to this curriculum?
  • How have other schools with this curriculum handled the change to this curriculum?
  • What does success look like for this student?

Cool Tip!

When creating the frame, seek to explore beyond the first results that come to mind and imagine the desired outcome from a broader perspective. What would you and your team feel? How would engagement or relationships change?

Monday Kickstarters

This topic came from our Summer 2023 Monday Kickstarters series, working sessions to figure out how to have a conversation worth having when faced with a tough situation, challenge, or problem on leadership or performance. Do you have a tough situation you’d like reframing? Join us throughout June (12, 19, and 26) for Monday Kickstarters, 12:30 – 1:00 pm EST. Register at The Center for Appreciative Inquiry.

Shared by: Sue Baldwin a certified Conversations Worth Having and Appreciative Inquiry Facilitator and Professional Learning Trainer, and Mentor.


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