More on SALT and appreciating strengths

I want to describe a way that I use to appreciate strengths. It helps me. Perhaps it can help others.
In a previous blog, I described how I came to understand one element of SALT as the idea that I needed to learn from an engagement with a community.
Before I start I would like to explain a little about my attitude toward knowledge. In a world that values knowledge perhaps this explanation will cause some surprise. I do not value knowledge highly. It takes time and effort to acquire and, very often, it seems to sit there and do nothing. Knowledge to me is useful when I use it to do something different.
Back to a conversation within the context of SALT visit. When I have a conversation, I often choose to use the experience to learn something so that I can take an action that is different from the one that I would have otherwise taken. When I bring that attitude into a conversation, I find that it has a good chance of being a rich conversation. I think that the attitude implicitly appreciates strengths. It implicitly recognises that I have something to learn from that strength and that I want to explore in more detail the details of that strength so that I can apply it in my own context.
With a little practice, it becomes possible to bring yourself into a mental state where you find yourself listening for the possibilities of strengths that you can learn from. And that mental state leads to fruitful conversations. They are not all 'successful' in terms of 'learning something that I can act upon' but I hope that they are successful in that I am appreciating strengths simply by my search to find a learning that I can act upon.
When I place this responsibility upon myself, I find that I listen hard and I think hard. And I open myself up to a whole range of possibilities that would otherwise have been closed to me.


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Comment by Gaston on April 12, 2010 at 12:20pm
Thanks Phil. I fully agree. I was reflecting yesterday during a train ride in the Netherlands on exactly this. I was reflecting on all the learning of SALT visits in DR-Congo including several meetings and how exactly is changed the way I do my work or live my life. I forced myself to make it concrete and not stay in 'I've learned a lot from the Congolese'. Afterwards I came up with some really practical things I can adapt in my work. But this additional effort was very important to achieve this.

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