Connecting local responses around the world
The first time I tried AI it was out of frustration and no better ideas to try. The results were a lot better than I expected. At the end of the first day of a two day retreat I led the group in the first two parts of the intervention: telling their stories and listing the attributes. I told them their homework that evening was to think of things that others had done to make the group more like the listed attributes and to come back tomorrow ready to share their appreciation’s. The next morning members came into the group with a lot of nervous energy. Then one woman led off by saying that she had not been able to sleep all night because of how angry she was with the group and how little appreciation she was feeling. Others quickly agreed that they had found the exercise difficult for similar reasons. The issues that had been simmering under the surface came boiling up and the group spent the rest of the morning leveling and working through past hurts and resentments. It was a very cathartic session. A great deal of openness was restored. As the session wound down members felt that my intervention had failed and expressed some regret for not having done what I had requested. I thought that was pretty funny and we all had a good laugh as I described my undisclosed frustration of the previous day.
I look at this as a "paradoxical intervention" (...). In this case the intervention does not result in new shared images. Rather it creates a cathartic release by forcing people into a paradoxical tension. By focusing on what they are not feeling (appreciation for each other) the issues that are causing the discordant feelings cannot be contained. This is a powerful intervention and not for the timid. But then so is stepping into the middle of a hostile, frustrated team."
End of excerpt from Bushe.
I find it a wonderful story as it shows how resentments can show up anyhow when you invite members to share what they appreciate.
This article writes about power and control in organizations, and how sometimes AI interventions are being used to cloud the issue at hand, not allowing people to speak up with their objections. Sometimes when people don't agree with a certain direction management announces or decrees, they are being told that they should be more positive, that they should turn their complaints into appreciation:
I'm looking forward to hearing your experiences and reflections on conflict in groups. What has worked well? How do you deal with what is not said, but what can be felt in the energy in the room? Or in the jokes, the side remarks, the humor that feels off?