Learning about Appreciation from outside the Constellation

In my work outside the Constellation, I have just learned a very powerful lesson about Appreciation. I thought I would share it.

I have been working with a colleague quite closely over the last 12 months. Recently, I commented to her that I always seemed to learn a lot from her even though we often seemed to look at things in different ways.

Her comment was that even when she couldn’t understand my point of view she felt very confident that I had thought about it carefully and that there was something that she could gain from understanding more about my way of thinking.
And yes, I decided that this was indeed how she worked with many of the people around her. I have been observing and experimenting with this approach over the last few weeks and I am beginning to think that this is powerful.

Although I don’t think that my colleague has ever heard of the acronym SALT, it seems to me that the approach is based firmly on the idea of Appreciation of one’s colleagues. And I am finding that it leads to powerful conversations that I would not otherwise have had.

So the challenges that so often appear in my conversation disappear. I stop saying (or writing), “I wouldn’t do that”. I stop saying (or writing), “Why are you doing it that way?” (It is not WHAT you say, it is about HOW you say it.) I become interested in the challenging view and start to ask questions to see how I might be able to use it. In other words, Appreciation begins to allow me to learn from potential differences in point of view.

A couple of points.
• I don’t think that this is about the questions that we ask. It is about the Appreciation that we bring into these questions.
• This Way of Thinking is VERY different from the Peer Assist approach. I am not looking for a shared view on which we can build. I am accepting the insight of my colleague and am looking to learn from and to use that insight.

Using this approach has been a very happy surprise for me. I recommend it.


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Comment by Rituu B. Nanda on November 6, 2013 at 11:05pm

 "I don’t think that this is about the questions that we ask. It is about the Appreciation that we bring into these questions."-  How powerful! 

Comment by Sanghamitra Iyengar on October 12, 2009 at 6:57pm
Dear Phil,

Greetings! Thank you for this thought provoking post. We have been having great challenges with a collaborating partner who thinks community competence and NGO's roles are all a waste of time. I will try it when I meet up with him in a fortnight! Understanding better why he thinks that way will help interact with him. Thanks for transferring your learning!!!!

Warm regards



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