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  • Writer's pictureDr. Francis Battisti & Dr. Helen Battisti

The Zone - Volume 93

Along with the major disruptions that have occurred over the past two years in our personal lives, work lives and the overall efforts of the world, a loss of quality relationships seems to be at the root of so many. The news seems to be replete with articles about painful disruptions at local, state, national and international gatherings and meetings. One of our colleagues lamented a few weeks ago that it seems that much of the world has forgotten to connect with each other. It does seem, at times, that it is much easier to focus on our differences rather than our similarities and what can bring us together.

We sense that one of the ongoing issues that will need to be consistently addressed, as we move forward, is how do we connect with each other to build community once again. It appears that, because of our need to be separate and safe for so long, we need to refresh and practice the skills that bring us together once again.

Appreciative Inquiry (AI), which is a systematic process for building a positive, engaging and growth-oriented relationship, is a powerful resource for accomplishing this goal. Whether we are looking at how to engage our family, friends, local community forums or large multi-level organizations, this process, derived from Positive Psychology principles, can be implemented. Initially developed by David Cooperrider and colleagues at Case Western Reserve University, it has since been tested and studied by individuals throughout the world. AI has become one of the key positive approaches to organizational development and collective learning. Through constructive dialogue, using positive directed questions, a trusted environment is created that allows for growth to occur. An example of how questions direct the dialogue is as follows. We could ask, “What are the problems that you see within our community?” “Why can’t we ever get it right when we want to improve our community?”. Or we could ask, “What do you love most about your community?”, “What do you consider some of the most significant trends, and events shaping the future of this community?”. The direction of the entire process is set by these few preliminary discovery questions.

In our work with individuals and organizations focused on transformation and substantive change, we have found that working with the AI model invites participants to experience a collaborative environment that can foster trust, connection, and substantive change.

Following are five core principles that create the AI framework we work from:

  • Constructionist Principle. Organizations evolve in the direction of the images we create based on the questions we ask as we strive to understand the systems at work.

  • Simultaneity Principle. Change begins the moment we ask a question.

  • Anticipatory Principle. Our behavior in the present is influenced by the future we anticipate.

  • Poetic Principle. We have no boundaries on what we can inquire and learn from.

  • Positive Principle. The more positive the questions used to guide a change process, the more long-lasting and effective the process will be. (The Essentials of Appreciative Inquiry: A Roadmap for Creating Positive Futures. Mohr, Watkins.)

It has been rewarding and refreshing to see how individuals and organizations can reshape their present experiences and create a future where they are valued and impactful.

An information packed resource for AI research and practical application is the Appreciative Inquiry Commons.


Key Takeaways

  • Words create worlds.

  • Stories offer insights into life-giving forces.

  • Finding shared similarities in each other can enrich the dialogue.

Best Practices

  • Read more about Appreciative Inquiry.

  • Focus on the positive as the focus of inquiry.

  • Practice crafting positive oriented questions

Things to Limit

  • Deficit-based change

  • Believing the worst of everything and everyone.

  • Negativity is “real world” and positivity is not.


Quote of the Week

“You can tell whether a man is clever by his answers. You can tell whether a man is wise by his questions.”

~ Naguib Mahfouz (Nobel Prize Winner)


If we choose to assist in getting our world focused on growth, life-giving energy, and connections, we have much to do. Appreciative Inquiry offers a researched-based, trusted process that is focused on life-enhancing growth. We encourage you to explore more about the creative aspects of Appreciative Inquiry.

Be well,

The paraDocs

Check our Welcome Greeting on YouTube

The paraDocs are Dr. Francis L. Battisti, PhD, Psychotherapist, Distinguished Psychology Professor and former Executive V.P and Chief Academic Officer and Dr. Helen E. Battisti PhD, RDN, CDN, Chief Nutrition Officer, at SpNOD, Health Promotion Specialist, Research and Clinical Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and former Assistant Professor.

We have developed "The ZONE", because that is exactly where you want to be during this pandemic. A place of focused attention to doing exactly what needs to be done to get you to where you need to be. The purpose of The Zone is to provide a nationally distributed weekly mental-health and nutrition tip-sheet during times of change.

If you would like to get copies of The ZONE that you may have missed or if you know someone that would like to start receiving The ZONE, please signup today... It's free and you can unsubscribe anytime.

Permission is given to share with others.

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