Dynamic Relationships - Professional Development Foundation

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5 Dynamic Relationships Unleashing the Power of Appreciative Inquiry in Daily Living Jacqueline M. Stavros and Cheri B. Torres Foreword by David Cooperrider Taos Institute Publications Chagrin Falls, Ohio 6 Dynamic Relationships DYNAMIC RELATIONSHIPS Unleashing the Power of Appreciative Inquiry in Daily Living COVER ART: What a powerful image of dynamic relationships the ocean expresses. At the macro level, the ocean represents the unseen paradigm in which all ocean life exists. The currents and the ocean’s relationship with the elements above and below it affect the animals and plant life of the sea without their even knowing that it is present. The ocean itself is in relationship with the planet and the other elements of our world—the wind, the sun, and the land. When the earth quakes in the depths of the ocean, the sea responds and a swell that gathers the force of a powerful tidal wave devastates the land and all that inhabit it, in turn impacting the human condition and inspiring our capacity for compassion and courage. When the full moon rises, the tide responds. At the micro level, when the winds blow hard and the sun shines hot, the ocean transforms itself, one drop of water at a time to fill the air with vapor, which becomes clouds, then rain, where drops of water once again become part of their whole. FIRST EDITION Copyright © 2005 by Jacqueline M. Stavros and Cheri B. Torres All rights reserved. No portion of this book may be reproduced by any means, electronic or mechanical including photocopying, without permission in writing from the publisher. In all cases, the editors and writers have made efforts to ensure that the text credits are given to appropriate people and organizations. If any infringement has been made, the Taos Institute Publications will be glad, upon receiving notification, to make appropriate acknowledg- ment in future editions of the book. Inquiries should be addressed to: [email protected] [email protected] or www.dynamic-relationships.com Taos Institute Publications Chagrin Falls, Ohio ISBN: 0-9712312-4-9 PRINTED IN U.S.A. 13 Table Of Contents Foreword 15 by David Cooperrider Acknowledgements 19 Prologue 23 Chapter 1 35 Introduction—An Invitation Chapter 2 49 Bringing AI Principles Into Daily Living Chapter 3 91 Moving Toward Appreciative Action Chapter 4 109 Creating Dynamic Relationships Chapter 5 145 Sustaining Positive Change Chapter 6 155 Beginning The Journey References 163 Endnotes 167 About The Authors 171 14 Dynamic Relationships 15 Foreword The world is venturing into a new paradigm in which we consciously co-create meaning in our world. With these exciting words, Jackie Stavros and Cheri Torres offer us a wonderful volume for learning to live into the appreciative paradigm as well as ways to unleash the positive resources for change that lie omnipresent in our relat- edness to everyone and everything that exists. The key is recognizing the dynamics of our relationships and the significance of our actions, and then living with appreciative intent, say the authors. It is all about unleashing the “true”, the good, the better, and the possible—tapping into the universe of strengths—with elevated and ever expanding awareness, in every encounter and relationship. And “yes” it is something that can be cultivated, easily. In many ways, say the authors, we as human beings are born to appreciate and to express love, to see the best in others and in turn to reap the benefits of others’ appreciations of who we are and might become. Put most simply: relationships come alive where there is an appreciative eye, where people are able to see the best in one another and create new visions together— with the desire for building not just new worlds but better worlds. There is a sense of adventure in what the authors are proposing here. The perspective they speak about is literally limitless in its applications. A short time ago, just as one example of the significance and relevance of this, I shared some of these ideas at a leadership con- ference. The presentation was apparently well received, as one could sense from the buzz in the room. And then a senior executive of a Fortune 500 company came up to me immediately after the talk. I will not forget his words. He said: These ideas have implications for every aspect of our business— for literally everything we do as a business…but I only wish I had heard these ideas when I was raising my children. Surprisingly, little has been written on applying Appreciative Foreword 16 Dynamic Relationships Inquiry—or “AI” as it is increasingly called—in one’s life. And this is the achievement of this terrific book! While the literature on AI as a constructionist approach to organization development is burgeoning, precious little has been written about AI beyond the workplace to the family, the carpool, the children’s athletic or art groups, the community, or wherever we gather to connect or play or collaborate. The significance of this is profound, because to re- ally sustain AI in our communities and organizations, propose the authors, we need to practice AI in the more inner and intimate ar- eas of our daily lives—ongoing, a way of life, not just an episodic organization development or change management project. This work is unique in that it translates complex concepts and research into easy to understand language, exercises, daily experi- ments, and expansive questions for personal and cooperative re- flection. There are applications of recent breakthrough research that is taking place in the positive psychology movement, positive organizational scholarship, and social construction. For instance, here is one example from Chapter 2 that is easily understood: ❑ Pick one person each day and find something to compli- ment them for. The compliment should be sincere and genu- ine. For some, this will not be a stretch. It is something you have thought but not said out loud. Choose a different per- son each day; be adventurous and choose people with whom you are not usually in the habit of socializing or working. This is especially powerful if you choose someone who says, asks, or does something that doesn’t fit your frame. Pause and reflect before responding the way you are immediately inclined to respond. Look for the gift, insight, creativity, or beneficial perspective they are offering. You might even pick complete strangers. When you have seen the “gift” in their perspective or through their eyes, compliment them in some way for it. Ask for nothing in return, and watch the effect your compliment has on the person. More importantly, re- flect on what effect your shift in understanding has on your relationship. 17 I will tell you what happened to me when I did this exercise. First, it changed my questions. Instead of our normal problem- solving state which can limit us by focusing on everything that is “wrong” and can narrow our attention to available “fixes”, I had to pay attention in a fuller, appreciative way: what is it that is best, most worthy of compliment and gratitude that I see in the other? Secondly, with this question guiding me, I started to learn—I saw things in Hannah, my daughter, I had not noticed nearly enough. Hannah is in high school and I was amazed by her provocative thoughts on the political dynamics during the U.S. Presidential elec- tions. When I really listened to her—at one point she asked “Daddy, if we have such a large impact in the world and if we believe in democracy, why don’t we let people around the world have a voice and vote in our election?” Instead of jumping in to explain why not, I paused. I began to see her as a young adult with leadership potentials I had scarcely noticed. My compliment back to her was to share how her remarkable thoughts and questions changed my teaching the next day at the University and how she made me think about how proud I was to be a citizen—a world citizen! How she lit up! Next, right after the compliment exercise, she started asking me new things about my work and field. That night, she asked if we, privately, could talk about some tough things happening be- hind the scenes at school with people she had trusted and thought were friends. I felt sadness in the things she shared, but was over- joyed by the opportunity to talk, to relate, to bond father-daughter. A mini-miracle happened, the gift of each other in a vital develop- mental sense. This is not trivial. Carefully embedded in this micro-social chain reaction is an upward spiral theory of change. We make our world significant. This book shows that 1. By the courage of our questions (the deep search for what is best in life and the strengths of those around us), we change the world around us, Foreword 18 Dynamic Relationships 2. It is in the depth of our connections and conversations with others that we change ourselves and our relationships one conversation at a time, and 3. This happens through the relational resources that are born and shared in settings of mutual appreciation and discov- ery that results in fostering love, empathy, hope, inspira- tion, respect, and joy. If you choose only one of the dozens of exercises in this book, please don’t overlook this one. We literally live in worlds our ques- tions create. Hannah and I will never be the same. Why? Because I am going to repeat and repeat the exercise until it becomes, as the authors suggest, a new and automatic action—an “appreciative action.” As I say, this is the first book to bring Appreciative Inquiry straight into our personal lives. I hope it is the start of many more, for the appreciable world is so much larger than our normal appre- ciative capacity for knowing it. Walt Whitman once said, “As for me I know nothing else but miracles”; guess what Whitman could see? He was aware of poetic possibilities everywhere. This is what Jackie Stavros and Cheri Torres get us to understand: that it is a conscious choice. Dynamic Relationships: Unleashing the Power of Appreciative Inquiry in Daily Living will help all of us unleash unexpected positive change everywhere we apply its life-centric principles. David L. Cooperrider, Ph.D. Professor of Organizational Behavior Weatherhead School of Management Case Western Reserve University Cleveland, Ohio 19 Acknowledgements Dynamic Relationships: Unleashing the Power of Appreciative Inquiry in Daily Living exists because of the great deal of time and depth of conversations from many people. The efforts that we wish to acknowledge took place over the course of the last several years. First it was the idea, then the conversations, next the development of our dynamic relationships, then nearly two years of writing, more challenges, and finally the book itself took on a dynamic shape of its own. The conversation of Appreciative Inquiry at a personal level began many years ago with David Cooperrider. He provided us the relational pathway to this original concept of living an apprecia- tive life. We have heartfelt thanks to David and his colleagues at Case Western Reserve University, especially Suresh Srivastva and Ron Fry. Thank you for your seminal research and being our teach- ers. We also thank board members and associates of the Taos Insti- tute and the founders and co-owners of Appreciative Inquiry Con- sulting for their contributions to this field of practice. We acknowledge the direction, commitment, and collabora- tion of the Editorial Team from the Taos Institute for shaping this book: Kenneth Gergen, Harlene Anderson, Jane Seiling, and Dawn Dole. They saw pathways we did not and coached us along one conversation at a time. For making this a reality, most sincere acknowledgements must go to Jane Seiling, the senior editor of Taos Institute Publishing. Once this proposal was accepted she never left our side. Her voice and editing guided us through another twenty versions of the manuscript. Her capabilities, dedication, concern for quality and feeling for the reader made a difference to every chapter. She accepted our emails and calls any day and any time. Thanks also for the creative book and cover designed by Paul Stavros and David Runk’s production team at Fairway Press. That team, comprising Missy Cotrell, Production Coordinator, Rebecca Brandt, Bethany Sneed, and Beth Diamond were instrumental in the formatting and design of the text; Jennifer Bible was respon- sible for the final cover design. Acknowledgements 20 Dynamic Relationships Others whom we wish to single out for their help, insight, edi- torial comments, and encouragement along the way include: Marilee Adams, Patty Castelli, Ivy Gordon, Sue Hammond, Joep C. de Jong, Bobby Forshell, Rich Henry, Paul Hilt, Jackie Kelm, Bernard Mohr, Trena Paulus, Kim Porter, Mike Rinkus, Clarence Rivette, Dan Saint, Cindy Savich, Marge Schiller, Jacqueline Sherman, Carolyn (Rainey) Weisenberger, Susan Wood, and Sue Wyatt. Each of you helped to elevate our work and reflect on our words. Thank you to those who helped to edit this manuscript in its final stages: Stan Baran, Ed and Martha Kimball, Barbara Kouskoulas, Patrick Riney, and Paul Stavros. We are grateful for a special gift of Relational Identity, a poem by Patrick Riney. We are immensely grateful to each of you for the precious gift of your time, expertise, and support. We are grateful to Jackie’s colleagues and students at Lawrence Technological University College of Management who supported this book from start to finish in many different ways—thank you for your commitment, enthusiasm, and insights. We fully appreci- ate the times that many of you listened patiently and politely about the status of this book. It is through writing and teaching that you learn and through learning that you write and teach! Cheri took time to visit with many of the MBA and DBA students throughout the last two years to engage them in Appreciative Inquiry and Ex- periential Learning. The students would ask just the right ques- tions at just the right moment. We are also grateful to the faculty and students in Cheri’s cohort in the Collaborative Learning Doc- toral Program at the University of Tennessee for engaging in dia- logue that informed this book: John Peters, Trena Paulus, Annie Grey, Ron Bridges, (Laura) Rong Li, and Cynthia Ghosten. Finally we thank our families for giving up so much of us dur- ing our dedicated writing time. Creating a book of this focus and depth requires the unconditional love and support of the people with whom we are closest in our lives. It has been wonderful to invite our families into this manuscript and our relationship. They have encouraged us, provided honest feedback, engaged in many of the exercises, generated ideas, and given us the opportunity to 21 engage in positive dynamic relationships. We especially wish to acknowledge with love and appreciation: our husbands, Paul Stavros and Michael Torres, and our children, Laura and Carmen Torres, Ally and Adam Stavros. Thank you to our parents, Stan and Fran Baran, Ed and Martha Kimball, and Barbara and Joseph Bogert (who began the journey with us) for their enduring support and love. We have been affected in pivotal ways by our relationships with all of you, which bring home the very heart of this book. We are deeply grateful. Dynamic Relationships is what it is because of our shared journey. Relational Identity By Patrick Riney We Are who we are Until Someone views us As someone other Than who we think ourselves to be. Instantly We become also Who we seem to be to them. It’s true, As society’s children We are so much more Than who we are to ourselves. We also are Who we are To everyone else. Acknowledgements 22 Dynamic Relationships 23 Prologue “We cannot live for ourselves alone. Our lives are connected by a thousand invisible threads, and along these sympathetic fibers our actions run as cause and return to us as results.” ~Herman Melville~ 24 Dynamic Relationships 25 This book is designed to open the doorway into the appreciative paradigm in daily living. It describes how living with the intent to create positive, expansive ways of relating and knowing actually increases the sustainability of positive change in and beyond pre- vious applications of Appreciative Inquiry (AI) to organizational life. Dynamic Relationships invites you to unleash the power of AI in your life, influencing the generation of communities that con- struct positive meaning. It will also influence your way of being in the world. This book is about living Appreciative Inquiry. It is about see- ing yourself in relation to and integrated with whole communities. We use this venue to offer the practice of the principles of AI as the foundation for being in relationships. Living AI requires enhanc- ing awareness through cycles of reflection and action: • Reflection calls us to ask questions such as: Q. How are we responding or reacting to one another? Q. What are we aware of (assumptions, beliefs, thoughts, feelings, etc.)? Q. What are we working to create and how are we creat- ing meaning together? The hope is that this might lead to further reflections like: Q. How did I come to understand things the way I do when it seems so different from you? Q. How can we come to understand one another and cre- ate shared meaning? Q. What meaning will my actions have for others? Q. How are my actions influencing the relationship? • Action calls for [or includes] consideration for the options I choose. Such consideration addresses the impact my choices have on the environment and others; the way my action changes the relationship or community; and the impact of my actions on my relationships, my organiza- tion, or family. Prologue

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