Appreciative Enquiry or "Waging good Conflict" (Jean Baker Miller's coinage)
When does the engagement of difference stimulate the development and enhancement of both parties to the engagement? And, conversely, when does such a confrontation with difference have negative effects: When does it lead to great difficulty, deterioration, and distortion and to some of the worst forms of degradation, terror, and violence—both for individuals and for groups—that human beings can experience? It is clear that "mankind" in general, especially in our Western tradition but in some others as well, does not have a very glorious record in this regard.
- Toward a New Psychology of Women by Jean Baker Miller, 1976, pg. 3. This quote was sent to us by Linda Hartling on February 16, 2010.
Now a lot of us are preachers, and all of us have moral convictions and concerns, and so often haveproblems with power. There is nothing wrong with power if power is used correctly. You see, what happened is that some of our philosophers got off base. And one of the great problems of history is that the concepts of love and power have usually been contrasted as opposites - polar opposites - so that love is identified with a resignation of power, and power with a denial of love. ..... What is needed is a realization that power without love is reckless and abusive, and love without power is sentimental and anemic. Power at its best is love implementing the demands of justice, and justice at its best is power correcting everything that stands against love.
- A Testament of Hope: The Essential Writings and Speeches of Martin Luther King Jr., edited by James M. Washington. This quote comes from Martin Luther King Jr. 1967, SCLC presidential address.
- This quote was kindly provided to us by Linda Hartling.
For me, rather than thinking of human dignity as an individual, internal phenomena, I like to think of human dignity as a co-created experience. It is a experience developed through respectful connection (interpersonal, social, international, etc.) in which people feel known and valued, they feel that they matter... It is our responsibility to participate in the construction of this relational experience for all people.
- These are reflections sent to us by Linda Hartling on October 11, 2006.
Hans Blix formulated a list of adjectives that would be desirable for the conduct of an inspector. This list fleshes out the concept of walking the talk:
• Driving and dynamic – but not angry and aggressive
• Firm – but correct
• Ingenious – but not deceptive
• Somewhat flexible – but not to be pushed around
• Calm – but somewhat impatient
• Keeping some distance – but not arrogant or pompous
• Friendly – but not cozy
• Show respect for those you deal with – and demand respect for yourself
• A light tone or a joke may sometimes break a nervous atmosphere.
- Hans Blix, quoted from http://www.un.org/. See also page 52 in Hans Blix (2004), Disarming Iraq: The Search for Weapons of Mass Destruction, London, UK: Bloomsbury Publishing.
To get a taste, watch this little film called Validation!
by Linda Hartling, August 2004
In our meetings we aim at creating a humiliation-free, collaborative learning environment characterized by mutual respect, mutual empathy, and openness to difference. The perspective of "appreciative inquiry" is a useful frame of our work. Our HumanDHS efforts are not just about the work we do together, but also about HOW WE WORK TOGETHER. At appropriate points during our meetings, for example at the end of each day, we take a moment to reflect on the practices observed that contributed to an appreciative/humiliation-free learning experience.
It is important to emphasize that an appreciative approach is not about expecting people to agree. In fact, differences of opinion enrich the conversation and deepen people's understanding of ideas. Perhaps, this could be conceptualized as "waging good conflict," which means practicing radical respect for differences and being open to a variety of perspectives and engaging others without contempt or rankism. As we have seen in many fields, contempt and rankism drains energy away from the important work that needs to be done. Most people only know "conflict" as a form of war within a win/lose frame. "Waging good conflict," on the other side, is about being empathic and respectful, making room for authenticity, creating clarity, and growth.
Linda kindly adds (July 17, 2007):
For me our approach means daring to "move toward mutuality" in all of our efforts. I conceptualize "movement toward mutuality" as an powerful act of resistance to organizational practices that implicitly or explicitly propagate exploitation. In "Relational-Cultural-Organizational Theory" (my variation on RCT), exploitation might be called "relational-organizational malpractice" (a variation of Joyce Fletcher's term). Far too many for-profit and nonprofit organizations depend on countless forms of relational-organizational malpractice, including shameless exploitation. Whether this occurs in an organization that is working for good or not, it is still malpractice.
Please see also Relationship Tips developed by Judith Jordan, and Linda Hartling, at the Jean Baker Miller Training Institute, 2006.
Please read An Appreciative Frame: Beginning a Dialogue on Human Dignity and Humiliation, that Linda Hartling has written for us in 2005.
Please see also Appreciative Facilitation: Hints for Round Table Moderators, kindly written in February 2006 by Judith Thompson to support the moderators of our workshops.
Please see also Toward Communicative Virtuosity: A Meditation on Modernity and Other Forms of Communication, written by W. Barnett Pearce, Santa Barbara, CA: School of Human and Organization Development, Fielding Graduate University. Paper presented to the seminar "Modernity as a Communication Process (Is Modernity "on time?")," April 15, 2005, Department of Communications and Social and Political Theories, Russian State University for Humanities Moscow, Russia 103012.
Please see also Bykr, A. S. and B. Schneider (2002). Trust in Schools: A Core Resource for Improvement. New York, Russell Sage Foundation. Please see the notes that Linda made on this book.
See also Creating We, by Judith Glaser, Platinum Press, 2005.
Please see also the discussion of communal sharing (CS) versus equality matching (EM), by Finn Tschudi: Reflections on World Parliament Experiment, WPE, at isfit 2007.
Please see also reflections by Michael Britton on How People Defend Themselves Against Hope: Lerner Responds to Cindy Sheehan's Resignation.
Donald C. Klein, August 2004
The term "Appreciative Inquiry" and the approach to organizational consulting and inquiry was developed by David Cooperrider at Case Western Reserve University. The approach is gaining wide usage among people doing organizational consulting. My work overlaps with David's approach. I am using the term "Appreciative Being" to describe a way of relating to life events via our human inherent capacity for experiencing awe and wonderment at being part of the universe.
Evelin Lindner, September 2004
The Jean Baker Miller Training Institute recently hosted a conference about Creating Relational Possibilities, with its last session about Holding a Vision of Hope. I think that both headings are also important for our group and our meetings. We are not motivated by financial rewards or by wanting to have a job. Our motivation is provided by our values and goals and the enthusiasm and hope we can create in our group. We want to contribute to building "a better world" and this is what drives us.
Thus, the inner cohesion of our group must be our priority, otherwise none of our activities will have any grounding and we will fail. This is, incidentally, also the cutting edge guideline in corporate sector consultancy ("hire for attitude, not for skill!" Kjell A. Nordström, Stockholm). In other words, it applies even to ordinary companies that need to make profit. Therefore, nurturing the relationships among ourselves, caring for each other, keeping our spirits up, must be the object of our primary attention.
This entails many details. Whoever holds a job for financial rewards and finds broader meaning not within, but outside the job, easily develops a host of attitudes and behaviours that might be damaging to our group, if displayed there. Many companies are afflicted, for example, by fragmentation. Out of frustration, employees may be tempted to try building alternative power bases for themselves among their collegues by blackening others ("don't tell X that I think that X is wrong in doing x, y, z..."). We have to guard against this kind of fragmentation. Or, perceived failings and disappointments among colleagues often lead to rifts ("take me off her team"); in our group such disappointments require that we all engage in healing activities. Deutsch's Crude Law of Social Relations is central as well, which indicates, in short, that "cooperation breeds cooperation, while competition breeds competition" (Morton Deutsch, 1973, p. 367).
Long is the list of new relational skills which we need to learn in order to build a cohesive group of mutual enrichment, which only then can contribute to building "a better world." Appreciative Inquity, Appreciative Being, and Appreciative Caring, all three need to be combined so as to achieve social relationships of equal dignity (that are void of humiliation), which in turn enable us to do constructive work in and for the wider world.
Please see here Buddhist Teachings on Right Speech, that relate to our quest for appreciative enquiry, caring and being.
Please see also Is it Possible to "Change the World"? Some Guidelines to How We Can Build a More Decent and Dignified World Effectively: The Case of Dignifying Abusers, by Lindner, 2006.
Evelin Lindner, June 2007
Please let me share with you a text (see further down) that is in the process of being written by several of our network members. You are invited to add to it! (If you wish to contribute to this text, please send me your contribution and I include it into the attached text!)
Noel Mordana is currently creating an academic paper that is based on this text, to be submitted to our new journal.
Many have expressed interest in this text, so, perhaps we can treat Noel's version as one product, and the organic growth of the attached paper as a separate project?!
Appreciative Nurturing (AE), a text in the process of being written collectively.
This is a text is not finished. If you wish to contribute, please let us know!
The Tree: Job Descriptions!
Michael Britton, June 2008
I am thinking of concentric circles. In the innermost circle are the small number at the heart of the Network, whose job seems to be threefold: (1)the bringing in of new people, which you, Evelin, do so amazingly; (2) meditating/reflecting on the core concepts of the Network: humiliation, dignity, appreciation, transformation, nurturing -- and how these are lived in day to day interactions/relationships with each other, within the Network, with anyone; the role of Tenders of the Mission, explorers of the "tactics" of appreciation, apology, forgiveness, etc; (3) providing service to the members in the next circle: encouragement, modeling of good relating, connecting them with one another as resources to each other, encouraging them in their own sense of mission, their own projects, etc. -- the Tree encouraging its branches to dare to grow their own fruit.
In the next circle are the members of the Network who are essentially doing their own thing, drawn to the Network by a shared focus on humiliation, dignity, nurturing, appreciation, transformation -- who participate in the sharing and cross-fertilization and mutual encouragement that takes place at the Conferences, and hopefully via the internet forums. The forums allow for an easier "networking" around shared interests -- education, research, etc. -- to compare, contrast, keep each other updated so that synergies can pop out and be taken advantage of, etc.
A coordinator or director of one of those forums is someone who takes the step out of the second circle into the first: S/he may continue to do their own thing, but that is not what the position is about. When acting in this role, the person focuses on the members in the second ring and what they are about, what they are trying to do, and provides encouragement, connections, brainstorming and the like for them in the pursuit of their own projects. A coordinator is a nurturer of other people in their own work, and sometimes in their own lives when they feel overall discouraged. A "coordinator" is not thought of as a "director" but more as a servant, a provider, one who seeks to be of help.
A coordinator also tends the larger picture in that domain, be it education or research or whatever: Where do all the individual efforts seem to be going, what do they have in common, where can they cross-fertilize, what does the bigger picture of global transformation seem to be most in need of that can be put out as a thinking-point that individual researchers might or might not want to take up as part of their work.
The other side of a coordinator role, as someone who has been brought into the first circle, is to enter into the shared process of reflection that goes on at the heart of the Network, reflection on humiliation/dignity/nurture/ transformation/appreciation/etc, as broad ways of understanding global life, its needs and possibilities, and on the "micro" level of our lived interactions. This is the realm of "walking the talk" and anyone who comes into the first circle as a coordinator takes on the responsibility for this kind of personal reflection so that, in the course of attending to the members of the Network he/she deals with, the interactions embody the effort to live what we think about. In this the goal is that whoever we have dealt with comes away with their own dignity "grown" or affirmed in the process.
A poem-plea (through paired rhymes) by Francisco Gomes de Matos
We may learn to classify
But have we learned to dignify?
We may learn to dare
But have we learned to care?
We may learn to insist
But have we learned to assist?
We may learn to obstruct
But have we learned to construct?
We may learn to cope
But have we learned to hope?
We may learn to self-actualize
But have we learned to the OTHER-realize?
We may learn to reject
But have we learned to protect?
We may learn to humiliate
But have we learned to commiserate?
We may learn to repudiate
But have we learned to appreciate?
We may learn to computerize
But have we learned to humanize?
We may learn to philosophize
But have we learned to philanthropize?
We may learn to distrust
But have we learned to co-trust?
We may learn to exclude
But have we learned to include?
We may learn to abstain
But have we learned to life-sustain?
We may learn to ignite
But have we learned to unite?
We may learn to conspire
But have we learned to inspire?
We may learn to say
But have we learned to pray?
We may learn to withstand
But have we learned to understand?
We may learn to live
But have we learned to give?
We may learn to live
But have we learned to love?
We may learn to do well
But have we learned TO DO GOOD?
We may learn love to limit
But have we learned LOVE to UNlimit?
Dear Friend, dear social entrepreneurs,
Our mission is to find creative ways to transform conflict, and we have regularly broken new ground. For example, we have developed methodologies to defuse violence across entire societies. Just as the Molière character did not realize he had been speaking prose his whole life, we did not know, in our early years, that our work would eventually be described as social entrepreneurship. But, in 2006, the Skoll Foundation named Susan Collin Marks and me to their Fellowship of Social Entrepreneurs. So, now we have a plaque on the wall that affirms our organizational commitment to "innovations that benefit humanity."
Basics. We have developed a list of principles, which follows, for how we practice social entrepreneurship. (And every year on the weekend after Thanksgiving, Susan and I lead a workshop on the subject at the Esalen Institute in Big Sur, California.)
1. Start from vision. Our vision is to transform how the world deals with conflict – away from adversarial, win-lose approaches to non-adversarial, win-win solutions. All that we do must be consistent – or at least not inconsistent – with our vision.
2. Be an applied visionary. We strive to be incrementally transformational. To change the world, we break down complicated tasks into finite, achievable pieces.
3. Enroll credible supporters. Because social entrepreneurs operate on the cutting edge, they often are seen as marginal. Prominent backers can be very helpful.
4. Be prepared to deal with high levels of complexity and uncertainty. When you intervene in complex systems, like international conflicts, there almost certainly will be unexpected outcomes.
5. "On s’engage; et puis on voit." As Napoléon said, you become engaged, and then you see new possibilities. This translates into recognizing that you cannot usually plan in advance the sequence to be followed or the results to be achieved.
6. Practice aikido. In the Japanese martial art of aikido, when you are attacked, you do not try to reverse your assailant’s energy flow by 180 degrees, as you would in boxing. You accept the attacker’s energy, blend with it, and divert it by 10 or 20 degrees in order to make you both safe. In our work, this means accepting a conflict as it is, while transforming it – one step at a time.
7. Make "yes-able" propositions. As Roger Fisher and Bill Ury wrote in their landmark book, Getting to Yes, everything works much better when people say "yes" to your proposals, which need to be both in their interest and in yours.
8. Display chutzpah. Chutzpah is a Yiddish word for effrontery or nerve. As Leo Rosten wrote, it is the quality "in a man who, having killed his mother and father, throws himself on the mercy of the court because he is an orphan." Still, chutzpah should be applied only in moderately pushy, culturally appropriate ways.
9. Develop good metaphors and models. Most people will not shift their attitudes and behaviors if they do not have a good idea of where they are headed. Metaphors and models – compelling stories – are crucial to reframing reality.
10. Have a high tolerance of ambiguity. If you are uncomfortable with not knowing where you are going and cannot deal well with the unexpected, you probably will not be a successful social entrepreneur.
11. Find trimtab points. On ships, the trimtab, a tiny rudder at the leverage point, is used to turn the craft with minimum effort. Similarly, social entrepreneurs need to be skilled at converting comparatively small inputs into maximum outputs.
12. Be persistent. We recommend adopting the example of the child’s toy truck that moves ahead until it hits a barrier, backs off, and then finds another path forward.
13. Apply fingerspitzengefühl. This is a German word meaning to have an intuitive sense of knowing – at the tip of your finger. Either you have it or you don’t..
By civility we do NOT mean politeness, decorum, agreement, bipartisanship, or unity. We think disagreement and debate are good things. We think America is well served when political parties represent different viewpoints and then compete vigorously to recruit voters to their side.
But we are disturbed by the increase in recent decades in demonization that characterizes American political debate, particularly among politicians and in the media. We are motivated by recent research in moral and political psychology showing what happens when disagreements activate the psychology of good-versus-evil. Compromise becomes far more difficult; reasoning becomes far less responsive to facts; and combattants begin to believe that the ends justify the means. When that happens, partisans are more willing to break laws, play dirty tricks, lie, and ruin the personal lives of their opponents -- all in the service of what they think is a good cause. Good people are discouraged from entering politics. Good public servants are driven out of public service. (See this eloquent lament and appeal from former members of Congress.)
Civility as we pursue it is the ability to disagree with others while respecting their sincerity and decency. We believe this ability is best fostered by indirect methods (changing contexts, payoffs, and institutions), rather than by direct methods (such as pleading with people to be more civil)....
Please read more at http://civilpolitics.org/.
We thank Karen Hirsch for making us aware of this material.
Dealing with Internet Trolls - the Cognitive Therapy Approach
You have probably heard various opinions about how to deal with people who write insulting or provocative remarks on various Internet forums (also known as "trolls" or people who "flame")...
Please read more at http://unarmed.shlomifish.org/909.html.
We thank Ulrich Spalthoff for making us aware of this material.