I am in Prague waiting my connection flight to Barcelona and I wanted to share with you the feeling of excitement that still bathes me. It still persists a sense of joy and contentment that usually starts with the openness that propitiates dialogue, and a stimulating sensation that starts when I prepare for listening and persists in time every time I review what actually happens there.

 

I know about the power of appreciation through my own experience. I have learnt much about my own strengths and myself thanks to my appreciative friends. And I also know other people’s stories about the impact and appreciative attitude had in their lives, especially in challenging times. This week I also learnt how much joy and contentment it brings to my life the practice of appreciation towards others.

 

Last week, we went to a Protestant Church in Yekaterinburg and it was an extraordinary experience. It was an awkward visit in many senses. The number of visitors was clearly disparate with that of the hosts (10 of us and only two of them), the expectations were varied, we did not know the community… But it allowed me to understand the importance of appreciation towards others in one’s own wellbeing. Appreciation is key not only for the people who receive it but also for those who practice it.

 

Since the very moment we arrived, the whole situation seemed to be contrary to what we expected: we expected to find a group of people, only one woman was there welcoming us (joined by another one after we arrived). We expected to have a dialogue but it was more of a monologue. We expected a conversation to exchange stories and we found what looked like a wish to ‘convert’ us. The first impression was a challenging one. And still, below this, or behind, or within, all this we could discover two human beings who had responded to a painful personal situation and put themselves in action to solve the problem.

 

Anna and Alexandra opened up their hearts and told us about the despair they felt in front of a critical family situation. They decided to act, join together and with their community and fight in the best way they could. They decided not to wait helpless so they mobilized all the resources they could found, both their personal resources and those of the community they belonged to.

 

Once I could get through the initial situation of disconcert I could start really listening to the story these women were telling us and I was able to appreciate all the strengths that they set in action and how that was still motivating them to keep doing the same for other people. The courage needed to tell us, foreigners, a story that they considered at times with a sense of guilt (‘I came to hate my own son for what he was doing to himself and to me’, said Anna) is amazing.

 

And it is only through appreciation that is possible to cross the barriers of ideas, ideologies or whatever possible differences, that we can get into people’s hearts, into their human nature, and that offers us a wide space for communication and understanding. It is in that space where we can meet each other as human beings.

 

We did not have much time so I could not to give them feedback and explicitly share with them my appreciation (maybe they did not need it from me right there as they probably get it somewhere else) but it was for me an experience that stimulates me to continue practicing SALT and receiving the gift of appreciation, both when I receive it from others and when I practice it in my relation to others.

 

I think that appreciation is like a key long time lost and forgotten. But when we find it we discover that it is the key that opens our hearts; it needs some polishing but it is the Key.
 

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Comment by Sana Meitram on April 27, 2012 at 11:40am

I agree the word Appreciation is the key entry point for establish the rapport with any communities around the world.

Comment by Phil on March 26, 2012 at 2:12pm

It always feels a little strange. When 'I' appreciate 'you', it sounds as if something is going from me to you. What you describe is a flow from 'you' to 'me'. And I think that is a good description of what is going on. 'Appreciation is key not only for the people who receive it, but also for those who practice it.'

It was very nice to meet your posting after a week away. 

phil

Comment by Rituu B. Nanda on March 26, 2012 at 10:43am

Does stress on appreciation mean that we ignore challenges. Here is Monty from Colorado's response to this and to David's sharing (given below)

 

Monty Glenn Miller
It depends when the negative enters the AI discussion. If after the system has had a good dialogue in the Discover and Dream anything negative is generally very productive. If it starts off negative well that presents a different challenge ...generally meaning there are issues associated with why we are even gathered together. The beauty I have never witnessed an AI session ending on the negative. And that is very positive! Thanks David
Comment by Rituu B. Nanda on March 25, 2012 at 4:02pm

Hi MariJo,

 

Here is a sharing from David the father of Appreciative Inquiry.  I share this because it shows how we ie Human beings  tend to focus on what does not work.

   David Cooperrider

Appreciative Inquiry seems to help make it possible to "override" what some in the article believe is a hard wired bias of the negative brain. My experience says it is not hardwired in any sense of inevitable because people move into an Ai mode so deeply when certain conditions in the system or setting are established, for example such as the "whole system in the room" or introduction of the language of human strengths (see via strengths website.) But its an interesting conversation, to be sure.

www.nytimes.com
The human brain handles negative and positive input differently, psychologists say, which is why memories of unpleasant experiences seem indelible.
Comment by Michael Mc Garrell on March 23, 2012 at 11:10am

I appreciate you sharing this. Very inspiring. I agree with Lou. We should change the like button to "Appreciate"

Comment by Marlou on March 19, 2012 at 5:29pm

Can the 'I Like' button on Ning be re-baptised in 'I appreciate'?

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