Using Appreciative Inquiry to Fuel Productive and Meaningful Engagement
Publication date: 05/22/2018
A Unique Guide to Changing Our World of Conversation. Conversation is a crucial part of everything we do. It influences our well being a good conversation can leave us ready for anything, a bad one can ruin our whole day. But most of us are unaware of the nature of our conversations, let alone how to make them consistently affirming and empowering. This book shows us how to use Appreciative Inquiry, one of the most effective and widely used approaches for fostering positive change, to dramatically improve the outcomes of our conversations. By focusing on what we want to happen instead of what we want to avoid, and asking questions to deepen understanding and increase possibilities, we expand creativity, improve productivity, and unleash potential, at work and home. "This book is for everyone, from managers striving to lead more effectively, to parents trying to cultivate better conversations with children." Lindsey Godwin, Director, David L. Cooperrider Center for Appreciative Inquiry "Wow! What a great book! I'm going to use it in my courses and with every client. It is rare to read a book that is so compelling and practical with simple guidelines anyone can use." Gervase R. Bushe, Professor, Simon Fraser University, and author of Clear Leadership "A conversation is the smallest visible unit of change, our starting point for every important change effort. This book is a gift to the world, business, schools, and families!" Jon Berghoff, President, Flourishing Leadership Institute "A must read for all leaders. Practical wisdom and relatable stories!" Robert Easton, Senior Managing Director, Accenture "This short book is a rare gem entertaining, relevant, educational, and immensely practical.!" Maureen McKenna, Founder, Return on Energy Jackie Stavros and Cheri Torres have been internationally recognized for their work with Appreciative Inquiry. They've positively affected the lives of thousands of people and helped hundreds of organizations improve their capacity to thrive in uncertain times. They have been researching, writing, consulting, and speaking on Appreciative Inquiry since 1996.Back to Top ↑
We live in worlds our conversations create.
– David L. Cooperrider
“I am struck by the simple fact that my impact as a leader, and even my whole day, goes better when I share my amazement, when we open minds, live into deeper and better questions, and interdependently emerge new things in every conversation …”
“Life worth living … must be made of affirmation.”
These are the words of one of the most remarkable chief executive officers I’ve ever worked with, arguably one of the greatest, most thoughtful corporate leaders of modern times. In one of its classic cover stories, Fast Company called him the Trillion Dollar Man. The article featured Dee Hock’s leadership theory and his founding of Visa, one of the largest, most innovative, and successful organizations of the past half-century. Today, Visa has a market value of some $400 billion and annual financial transactions approaching $10 trillion. During Dee’s tenure as CEO, the corporation increased its profits by 10,000 percent, but more importantly it reinvented the very concept of organization itself. In many ways, it was an early prototype, not a final model, for the more fully human organization we are seeking and even seeing emerge today. The exciting story in Dee’s career is his belief in people, which he expresses this way: “The truth is that, given the right circumstances, from no more than dreams, determination, and the liberty to try, quite ordinary people consistently do extraordinary things.” 1
I had the privilege to work with Dee for more than five years. We were uniting the positive power of Appreciative Inquiry (AI) with his concepts of the more fully human organization—a collaborative, intrinsically motivating system capable of liberating the human spirit without reverting to tired, old command-and-control forms of bureaucracy. After years of working with Dee, I began to search for the core of his success. Yes, he was courageous. True, he was tireless. Right, he was an amazing learner. For example, when I visited his home he had just turned his dining room into a massive library spanning the fields of complexity science through the new biology of living systems to the humanities, including many of the classics in art, history, and literature. There were well over 8,000 titles in that “dining room” library, and each one had his underlines, exclamation points, and margin notes. His insatiable love of learning, of course, was a signature strength. And yes, he was skilled as a CEO, with talents in global finance, negotiations, and the future of digital technologies. Yet I still could not put my finger on his mystery. What was that unique difference, that “something more,” that made all the difference and made Dee so extraordinary?
It was not until I opened this very special and graceful book, by Jackie Stavros and Cheri Torres, that I understood the secret to that CEO’s exceptional career and success. Dee Hock had a gift: a Jeffersonian belief in “we the people” and the idea of “organization as community,” which I would summarize as this:
Our organizational lives and the lives of others flourish or flounder, one conversation at a time.
For Dee, the difference between success and failure in leadership was all about the art of the “conversation worth having”—precisely the kind that this book describes with such clarity and practicality. Peter Senge, commenting on how Visa was conceived and co-created through literally thousands of conversations and dozens of disciplines, said that the early days of the company “may simply be the best business example of an emerging revolution in organizing.” 2
Change begins with a single conversation.
As CEO, Dee Hock instinctively knew that all the abstract notions of management—corporate culture, strategy formulation, organizational alignment, change management, living the brand, joint venturing, winning the customer, enabling innovation, recruiting top talent, creating atmospheres of aspiring versus fearing, improving connectivity, and scaling up excellence—were accomplished one conversation at a time, with teams, persons, and both small and large system meetings. Dee called “this abundance of interdependent diversity that was the deeper meaning.” When I look back at our years of working together, what most stands out was how Dee, when at his best, was a maestro of vital conversations—some of the greatest I’ve ever been part of. Many of them became defining moments. This experience led me to believe this:
Every organization and every life’s destiny is a series of defining moments—moments that shape us, change us, and have a huge impact on our development and strategic choices. Our research indicates that almost all of these moments involve the power of vital and caring conversations with significant others.
After numerous virtual conference calls and telepresence meetings with Dee (not his favorite way of conversing), I recall thinking: “I have never seen a CEO giving so much time and positive energy to each conversation, with such purity of attention, curiosity velocity, mutual inquiry across boundaries; getting everyone engaged like a contact sport; inviting full voice; and modeling the beginner’s mind with real listening. Everyone felt appreciated, honored, elevated, and heard.”
In one instance, drawing on lessons from the Visa start-up story, we were working with an organization to help its members articulate its body of beliefs, those constitution-like principles that provide the core values for years to come. My job was to apply the mindset of Appreciative Inquiry, an approach that values all voices, seeks to inspire generative theories and possibility thinking, opens our world to new possibilities, challenges assumptions of the status quo, and serves to inspire new options for better living. 3
Dee called for a conversational process in which a diverse group of all relevant and affected stakeholders would meet and deliberate for three full days, every forty-five days, for an entire year. This schedule provided the time for vital conversations to get at the essence of what matters. Looking back, in a world where relationships are often superficial, this process was astonishing. Because of those inspired conversations, the organization doubled in growth, doubled again, and continues to grow exponentially. So deeply held and valued were its guiding principles that, because of the power of conversations that matter, the organization had the courage to craft one final and concluding principle for the entire global system, with over 850 centers in some 150 countries. This principle stated, “Any individual or organization in this global system can do anything it wants, at any scale, and in any manner—as long as it advances our shared purpose and principles.”
This was a radical principle. It asked everyone to be a leader—to build the culture via every conversation. In effect, it told the organization’s people that they needed very little traditional supervision. It eliminated the need for a large, expensive, central office hierarchy and thick books on standard operating procedures. It realized that the intrinsic motivation that comes from inspirational beliefs is much more powerful than extrinsic forces. One lesson derived from that principle is highly relevant right now:
When you approach each vital conversation as if it could become the most important conversation you might ever have, you can create a positive legacy. How often do we think of our next conversation with this kind of alertness and high anticipation?
Originally, the prospect of deliberating for three full days, every forty-five days, for twelve months took everyone by surprise. Now, as I look back, I realize it was not the number of days that was important; it was the tough-love message Dee was sending. He was raising the bar on how we conceive of leadership work and think about conversations. In his book that shares the Visa creation story, the word conversation is used ten times more than the term strategic planning. Conversation is a meeting of hearts and minds. I believe this:
When hearts and minds meet, they don’t just exchange facts and create atmospheres of hope or despair: They transform them, reshape them, draw different implications from them, engage in new explorations of possibility. Such conversations are literally living systems, living on the edge of chaos and order—like all of life, when it is most alive, busting out all over with pattern and coherence, but also alive with novelty and emergence.
When you think of conversations worth having, think engagement, interweaving, co-creation, inspiration, respect, illumination, emergence, enriched relationships, trust, empathy, and bringing out the best: think legacy.
We live in worlds our conversations create.
Moreover, leadership is a tapestry of both failed and successful conversations that weave the fine threads of our cultures and relationships, budget alignments, customer communities, innovation trajectories, and best places to work into ethical environments where people can thrive and enable their individual and collective greatness to emerge.
On the reverse side of the tapestry, we’ve also experienced conversations that have caused irreparable damage—destructive conversations. Consider marriages and partnerships where people wish they could replay history and avoid that one unfortunate and explosive conversation that caused a rupture. Consider another life-depleting form of conversation: the boss who begins every meeting by treating the world or the organization as “the-problem-to-be-solved”; where every agenda item is about threats to the business, failure rates, anger about missteps; and where the main life-depleting atmosphere left in the aftermath is fearful and toxic, some combination of disappointment and distance. And, with all of this at stake—each conversation part of a legacy—recall your own schooling. Did you ever take a course on conversations? Not just any kind of conversation, but life-giving ones that serve to open your world to new possibilities, elevate greatness, and build bonds of mutual regard and positive power, not “power over” but “power to.”
This book, then, represents a breakthrough in the combined fields of Appreciative Inquiry and Peter Drucker–like strengths-based management, positive psychology, and design thinking. What you hold in your hands is the course you’ve likely never encountered in only one book but always wanted. Conversations Worth Having can change your life at work, certainly. Perhaps even more significant, however, is the difference it can make in creating precious, growth-promoting moments and relationships with significant others, family members, partnerships, and community.
Why my excitement? After all, a handful of books out there today describe courageous conversations, confrontational meetings, conflict resolution, and even “ferocious conversations.” And while they, too, show how our lives succeed or fail one conversation at a time, I believe this is the first book of its kind to take Appreciative Inquiry’s profound promise of positive leadership into legacy-creating conversations. 4 Imagine taking the innovation-inspired tools of design thinking, the strengths-based leadership philosophy of Peter Drucker, the science of positive psychology, and the generative power of Appreciative Inquiry for bringing out the best in people and organizations—and then making all of these accessible as the operating system, even the DNA code, inside every conversation worth having.
The possibility that every conversation can start with a positive frame and end in an even more positive way is the central idea of Conversations Worth Having. In pursuing this radical idea, the authors take us into the principles of AI, now being applied at places such as Apple, Johnson & Johnson, the U.S. Navy, Coca-Cola, Verizon, Vitamix, Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, and even the United Nations.
For example, instead of the metaphor that “the-world-is-a-problem-to-be-solved”—which almost automatically triggers a deficit-analytic search into breakdowns, gaps, and root causes of failure and places most of our attention on yesterday—we might consider instead an assumption that organizations are living systems, alive, embedded in “universes of strengths.” The most vital conversations, this book’s authors have discovered, begin in a wide-angle, valuing way—searching the appreciable world, which is always larger than our normal appreciative capacity, one where the starting assumption is this:
It is not only that we live in a universe of strengths and unlimited human imaginations, but surrounding every change situation we are part of—whether internal to the system or external to the system—there exists the strength combinations and innovation potentials, including consciousness shifts, greater than any organizational challenge or opportunity we will ever face.
Complexity science describes the concept of “sensitive dependence on initial conditions,” which can turn tiny snowballs into mountains of avalanches. We see many of those same dynamics in conversations, right from the fateful moment when they are first framed. Small beginnings can have huge consequences, especially in human systems, which often become what those in the system ask questions about most frequently, authentically, systematically, creatively, and rigorously.
So, Conversations Worth Having is not at all about turning a blind eye to anything. Instead, it is about something quite artistic, ever so subtle, seeing beyond the problem and inviting a different kind of inquiry or search that creates an empowering environment, one that has a high-strengths density and a prospective, future-forming power. You will witness this different kind of inquiry in the first two stories the authors share in chapter 1, about a large teaching hospital and a failing bank.
This book is built on the authors’ relentless optimism, yet it is anything but Pollyannaish. Indeed, in this book, the authors take us into some of the hardest moments any manager, family, business, government, or community might face. It skillfully provides exactly the right amount of theory for those who want the science of it, but mostly it’s about practices you yourself can use and engaging narratives that illustrate and vivify. The storytelling is honest, heartfelt, and real. You cannot help but reflect on your own life as the authors narrate their own and other transformations.
If you read nothing else, turn to the end of the book for the gripping account of the daughter of one of the authors: It’s the true story of a mother and daughter and their response to a young father’s harsh and untimely diagnosis of stage four lymphoma. The story, which moved me to tears, was written by the thirteen-year-old daughter, Ally. Courageous Ally teaches us how Conversations Worth Having is also about loving and being loved. The bottom line:
You learn that in any time, any place, any situation, no matter what people tell you, conversations matter and that words, generative questions, and the cognitive power of love—seeing through the gift of new eyes—can change lives, relationships, and organizations.
If you could choose only one inspiring and resource-rich book on leadership as conversation, what do you suppose it would be? For me, the answer is right here in your hands. Jackie Stavros and Cheri Torres—as well as Ally and her father, Paul—have given us a gift. In business, it will strengthen relationships, because the relationship is the conversation. In homes and schools, it will help you see and bring out the best in your children and young people—because those, too, are relationships where the conversational ecology is precious and can produce life-defining moments. And when you read this small volume through the lens of your own conversational history, it will likely resonate with something you and many others have experienced:
Relationships come alive where there is an appreciative eye, when we take the time to see the true, the good, the better, and the possible in each other and our universe of strengths, and when we use this concentrated capacity to activate conversations that open our world to new possibilities, elevate collective genius and purpose, and build bonds of mutual regard and positive power—not “power over” but “power to.”
In the end, Jackie and Cheri have given us the gift of hope. Conversations Worth Having are those that allow us to grow the most and, in the process, also contribute the most. In a world where so many conversations separate us from our vast potentials, may this book change not simply our world but also the world of conversation.Back to Top ↑
"This is the first book of its kind to take Appreciative Inquiry's profound promise of positive leadership into legacy-creating conversations. This one book can change lives, relationships, and organizations. In a world where so many conversations are separating us from the vast potentials, may this book change not just our world, but our world of conversations." -David Cooperrider, Distinguished University Professor and Honorary Chair Weatherhead School of Management, Case Western Reserve University and The David L. Cooperrider Center for Appreciative Inquiry, Champlain College, Stiller School of Business "This is my favorite book on Appreciative Inquiry ever! It captures the core concepts in a tight package, explains everything well, and provides plenty of techniques so you can put it to work immediately! If you want to use Appreciative Inquiry in your work or at home, pick up this gem. You will enjoy the amazing stories and get a comprehensive education you can put to work immediately. Conversations are the currency of our lives. Their quality determines the depth of our relationships and the possibilities our future holds. This little book packs a powerful and profound punch on all fronts. Pick it up and learn exactly what you can do to immediately improve the quality of your interactions, opening the door to the future you most dearly want. Wonderful! With grace and ease, this book provides a massive education. The stories alone are packed with power. The included techniques are easy to understand, comprehensive, and accessible. Conversations Worth Having is a remarkable, one-of-a-kind gift that you deserve. Big things will result from the people who put these tools to work." -Seth Kahan, Founder of the Visionary Leadership Academy Author, Getting Change Right and Getting Innovation Right "This book is for everyone, from managers striving to lead their teams more effectively, to parents trying to cultivate better conversations with their children. With real-life examples, Stavros and Torres help illustrate the simplicity of how appreciation plus inquiry can change lives!" -Lindsey Godwin, Director of the David L. Cooperrider Center for Appreciative Inquiry Professor, Robert P. Stiller School of Business, Champlain College "Conversations Worth Having is exceptional! It's easy to read, relatable, and absolutely relevant. Ground breaking! Read this book if you want to be a great leader. Jackie and Cheri provide a comprehensive approach to improving communications in any setting." Awesome book!" -Loyd Beal III, Lieutenant Colonel, United States Army "As a college president, one of the most important things I can do is engage members of the college in meaningful conversations, giving voice to all our stakeholders. The Appreciative Inquiry practices in this book have been transformational at our college. They have empowered us to have difficult conversations, strengthen our relationships, and focus on how we can together create even greater possibilities for our students to succeed." -Annette Parker, President South Central College, National Academy of Science, Center for Community College Student Engagement Board, and National Council for Adult and Experiential Learning Board "Conversations Worth Having ... is a book worth having . . . and a must read book. This is a book all leaders of organisations, large and small, should read because Jackie Stavros and Cheri Torres show us through a combination of real life stories, practical wisdom, and just the right amount of science drawn from the fields of Appreciative Inquiry, Positive Psychology, and strengths, how conversations in workplace organizations determine the organizations capacity to flourish and the well-being of its team members. This one book shows the transitive, catalytic, and transformational power of conversations which are positive, affirmative, meaningful, strength based and life giving, versus those which are depletive. This is one of those short and easy to read books that will create a legacy for years to come by showing us why it is important to turn our conversations to the positive, and by providing us with tools on how to do this . . . We know that if we want people to care for our businesses and others, they must first feel cared for. As I read this book, it struck me that it is through conversations worth having, regardless of duration, that we show how much we care for others. Thank you for this wonderful gift that I can't wait to pass onto my teams, family and friends . . . and thank you for reminding us of the generative power of conversations worth having, to the countless relationships that make up the tapestry of life day each and every day." -Robert Easton, Senior Managing Director, Accenture "Wow! What a great book! I'm going to use it in my courses and with every client from now on. I find it very rare to read a book like this, one that is so compelling and practical that it not only provides simple guidelines anyone can use, but filled me with the desire to go use them right away in the next conversation I have. Once I started reading it I couldn't stop, and I immediately thought of a dozen clients and friends I want to give the book to. I believe that if you read and apply just the first two chapters your life, at work and at home, will change for the better!" -Gervase R. Bushe Ph.D. Professor of Leadership and Organization Development, Beedie School of Business, Simon Fraser University, Vancouver, Canada Author, Clear Leadership: Sustaining Collaboration and Partnership at Work "Conversations Worth Having has shifted the way I enter, engage, and react in my daily conversations. It has opened my eyes to how easy it is to shift from impulsive, emotional reactivity to productive, mindful conversations. When this book came to me, I was struggling to adjust to the adult' phase in my life. I had taken on several new roles: becoming a manager, a wife; I felt overwhelmed by the obstacles and responsibilities that had come my way. After learning to practice the Appreciative Inquiry principles outlined in this book, I have been able to shift my viewpoint to focusing on the solutions that I am capable of pursuing instead of giving all my energy to the problems I face. This book has provided me with tools that have helped me to express myself genuinely, listen to and understand others, rearrange my responsibilities and become a more valuable version of myself- at work and home. It's helped me deal with conflict in a more productive manner. By flipping my attitude and tone of the conversations I engage in, I find myself in a more balanced, peaceful state of mind." "Jackie and Cheri - thank you so much for sharing this book with me. It came to me just when I needed it." -Stephanie Schlueter, Manager, Natural View Market "I have had hundreds of conversations each day with students, parents, and staff. With students, I try to practice my philosophy that every conversation, even with serious disciplinary issues and consequences, is an opportunity!! With parents, I often say I am just a dad who also happens to be a high school principal'. With staff, I often say I am your colleague not just the boss'. After reading Conversations Worth Having, I now have an evidence-based framework that has filled in the blanks of what I have been trying to accomplish in my career. I am trying to build emotion, trust, meaningful engagement' and Appreciative Inquiry into my daily conversations! This book has re-enforced my belief that each and every discussion, with any person, has the true potential to build a connection! How I act in this conversation, how I lead, and how I engage the individual will almost assuredly dictate if I make a connection or not. It is up to me to frame the discussion, especially in my position of authority, in order to create a community of engagement. I also often tell my students that I like to hand the keys of the building' to them. This is my simple way of modeling that this building of bricks is their school, their home, their community. Conversations Worth Having made me reflect that every single conversation I have can be the next brick in this building, in our learning community. Every conversation can be the individual brick that become the solid foundation, of which outstanding organizations are built upon! Stavros and Torres have put into words how to simply and effectively build any team, any organization, and any company without any financial expense. Words are just sounds, without the heart behind them. The authors remind us to use your head to frame the conversation, and then just as importantly, to back it up with your heart. Each word and each conversation WILL affect your team. HOW it affects your team is up to you, if you intentionally make it a conversation worth having." -Gavin Johnson, Principal, Brighton High School Father of Ally and Emma "Using engaging stories from their years of consulting experience with Appreciative Inquiry, Jackie and Cheri offer the first real practical guide to fundamentally changing our conversations to bring about the positive change we thirst for in ourselves, our relationships, and our organizations. The simplicity with which they present the principles and practices for doing so makes this my go-to resource for working with leaders." -Neil Samuels, President, Profound Conversations, Inc. Author, The Heathside Story Appreciative Inquiry in Whole School Transformation "We often get stuck in seeing the world through a lens that's distorted. Everything it seems is broken, hopeless, and unchangeable. Through such a lens, doing great work is nearly impossible. That's why -- for leaders and managers in any organization -- reading Cheri and Jackie's book is essential. The simple techniques it teaches will help people shake off the distortions of a problem-heavy worldview, and help them see the world as a place of potential, creativity, and continuous growth. By following the book's edicts, a business culture fueled by top-notch success will be well within your grasp." -Mark Levy, Founder of Levy Innovation LLC Author, Accidental Genius: Using Writing to Generate Your Best Ideas, Insight, and Content "This short book is a rare gem, it is entertaining, relevant, educational, and immensely practical. Jackie and Cheri synthesize vast amounts of research and years of their own practice, into powerful and educational stories on how to use Appreciative Inquiry in conversations. The two: practices: positive framing and asking generative questions, provide the reader with the skills needed to confidently engage in making any conversation a conversation worth having." -Maureen McKenna, Founder, Return on Energy, Toronto, Canada "Jackie and Cheri really show how we can truly change the world one conversation at a time. Through their effective use of storytelling, you learn how to apply Appreciative Inquiry to engage in conversations designed to generate new ideas, create energy, and result in positive outcomes!" -Lori Marsee Kuehn, Senior Manager Global Employee Engagement, Strategy Enablement and Research, General Motors Company "We create our worlds one conversation at a time. This timely book helps us see more clearly the crucial difference between productive conversations that are generative and life giving and conversations which reduce our capacity for constructive change. It illuminates powerful Appreciative Inquiry practices and principles that can transform a leaders' personal experience and can offer organizations and communities constructive paths forward in these challenging times. It helps us see the way that conversation can be a powerful co-evolutionary force for the common good at a time when this perspective is sorely needed." -Juanita Brown, Co-founder, World Caf Author, The World Caf : Shaping Our Futures Through Conversations that Matter "A conversation is the smallest visible unit of change - a micro-moment of transformation, our starting point for every important change effort. Jackie and Cheri give us a great playbook for having positive cycles of conversations worth having, sure to spark widespread innovation, authentic shifts in culture, and system wide resilience. These interactions create the macro-movements that purpose driven leaders need. This book is a gift to the world, business, schools, and families!" -Jon Berghoff, President, Flourishing Leadership Institute "Conversations Worth Having blends together a lot of complex science into easily grasped constructs, interesting anecdotes about personal and organizational conversations, and practical advice about how to frame conversations in ways that make people want to engage and take action. An entertaining and fascinating read.! You will never look at yourself, your organization, or your world of conversations quite the same way." -Irmgard Wobeser, Family and Couples Therapist Centro Psicologico de Cancun, Mexico "Conversations With Having is the first book I would recommend for leaders who want to be more effective and for those aspiring to be future leaders! As I read the book, I thought back to the most effective leaders with whom I've worked over my career and who helped shape my behavior. They naturally followed the practices and principles in this book. I recommend this book to all managers who want to be a partner in a consulting firm, all junior managers in Fortune 500 firms who desire to be senior executives, all cadets studying to be Army officers, all those who desire to be good parents and everybody else who want to have great relationships." -Daniel K. Saint, PhD, Former Partner and Global Practice Leader, Deloitte "In Conversations Worth Having, Stavros and Torres brilliantly translate the practices and principles of Appreciative Inquiry, a process for large-scale organizational change, into well-defined everyday communication practices for enhancing personal relationships at work and beyond. The wealth of stories about people who have actually applied their ideas makes this book interesting, accessible and highly useful. If you are wondering how to improve relationships at work or at home, this book is for you!" -Diana Whitney, Ph.D. Founder, Corporation for Positive Change Co-Founder, The Taos Institute Author, Appreciative Leadership, and The Power of Appreciative Inquiry "Conversations Worth Having is a gift to us in a timely manner. Jackie Stavros and Cheri Torre's work has broad significance and relevance anywhere. It encompasses importance of conversations at the micro-level with individuals, groups, and corporations to the mega levels to address international economic and political, military conflicts. Their appreciative approach is addressed in an atmosphere of learning and professional enrichment. Imagine a world we would have inherited had the world leaders not engaged in impactful conversations on behalf of the freedom and value of life. Global conversations were tipped in favor of life, peace, and humanity by the strategic conversations among world leaders. At a larger scale, meaningful conversations at all levels foster impactful positive changes in people and nations. Stavros and Torres through various stories bring to fore challenges and offer potential solutions via conversations in an admirable manner. The launch of this book is a welcome addition to the literature on effective communication. A reader will benefit in seeking and identifying solutions to life's daily and perpetual issues of importance. The authors' undertaking of the project of this magnitude should be received with appreciation and admiration." -Virinder Moudgil, Ph.D, President and CEO, Lawrence Technological University "The heart of all conversations is how we how we understand each other and how we build trust. That, for me, is the power of Appreciative Inquiry. People with problems at work or home don't always think Appreciative Inquiry. Yet, that is the best time to explore possibilities. This seems to be the most challenging for most people new to this field. Cheri and Jackie have marvelously struck the right notes of practice and embracing understanding. Their framing and flipping exercises are a gift, and I cannot wait to introduce the stories, exercises and practices in our workshops and trainings." -Kathy Becker, CEO, Company of Experts, Inc., Lead Designer & Trainer, Center for Appreciative Inquiry "Conversations Worth Having is a great work and a must-read for business managers, team members, and people who work in groups! Jackie and Cheri demonstrate how to make a positive impact. They sincerely show that people have a wealth of positive energy that is best released through appreciative conversations. Through the art of our conversations, we can turn bad situations to positive ones. Appreciate Inquiry nourishes and encourages productive practices and not defensive outcomes. It facilitates meaningful conversations with people who make a difference in our lives and in our businesses especially those individuals who are the cornerstones in any successful endeavor." -Massood Omrani, Ph.D., Managing Director, CADFEM Americas, Inc. "The greatest thing about Conversations Worth Having is that it provides a window into the quality of our own thinking and inner dialogue. We carry on conversations in our mind without realizing much of the time the impact they have on our health, success, and happiness. Jackie and Cheri teach people how to alter their inner dialogue in order to improve their lives. Equipped with these skills, the reader will be able to better apply the skills of positive influence in the workplace and have better conversations in their personal lives. This book succinctly shows how to have effective daily interactions at work, at home, and with our own selves!" -Dan Casetta, Western Region Manager, Vector Marketing/Cutco Corporation "Everywhere in the world right now is the crucial time for connection through conversations. In their new book, Conversations Worth Having, Jackie Stavros and Cheri Torres set out a pathway to lead us past our polarities. Using real time stories and the models from research, these two Appreciative Inquiry experts have written a book that will help individuals, organizations, and families navigate the choppy waters of differences." -Marge Schiller, Founder, Positive Change Core Author, Appreciative Leadership "Conversations Worth Having provides practical ways to use Appreciative Inquiry in everyday situations. Electronics, telework, virtual meetings, and dispersed offices have replaced our daily, face-to-face conversations so that more than ever we need the type of conversations discussed in this book to solve problems, create meaningful dialogue, and build lasting productive relationships. They provide two simple practices including my favorite: asking generative questions. Great book!" -Dr. Jennifer A Hitchcock, Executive Director U.S. Army Tank Automotive Research and Development Center "How do we engage in conversations in ways that foster thriving and well-being in our workplaces, our families, and our lives more generally? After reading this book, you will be fully equipped to answer this question and to engage in conversations in ways that make a positive difference. Jackie and Cheri use their extensive knowledge and practice with Appreciative Inquiry to unlock the potential in conversations. This book is brimming with insights, stories, and practical tools that will change your capacity to have meaningful conversations with others. The book is a gift to leaders, change agents and individuals of all types who wish to engage in conversations as a means for creating positive change in ourselves and in others! I loved this book!" -Jane Dutton, Robert L. Kahn Distinguished Professor Emerita Business Administration and Psychology Ross School of Business, University of Michigan Author, Awakening Compassion at Work "An amazing book! This book provides practices to positively transform your life, family, organization, and our world. Every conversation is an opportunity to elevate a person, a situation, a culture. You'll learn how to make the most of your interactions. This is a must-read to deepen connections, strengthen relationships, and change the world one conversation at a time. Thank you Jackie and Cheri for dedicating yourself to this practice and teaching us how to have Conversations Worth Having. Everyone needs to read this book!" -Betsy Crouch and Zoe Galvez, Co-Founders, ImprovHQ "As a city planner who engages in all kinds of conversations with multiple stakeholders at the grass-roots to the local and state levels, this book is a great resource on how to have a conversation worth having! The scenarios from the authors' experience with actual clients provide insight into how to simply have great conversations that works for all. This book will be by your side to guide you through any conversation in any moment. Keep it close by!" -John F. Baran, City Planner, City of Detroit "This book is a gift to the world! I strongly recommend it as required reading for all future leaders, business people, teachers, and parents. Jackie and Cheri have written clearly and with much practicality. The stories moved my heart to believe that Appreciative Inquiry conversations can make all the difference in the world. I plan to purchase multiple copies for those whom I love." -Rose Heinrichs, Elementary and Special Education Teacher (Retired) "Conversations Worth Having is for everyone. The stories and examples in this book are ripe for facilitators, coaches, family members, community members, leaders, and team members alike. The clear message is reinforced, across all contexts. The authors bring the principles of Appreciative Inquiry alive in the conversations that are shared. The conversational tone personifies the message of the book. We are our conversations, and it's through our conversations that we come alive and make meaning together. It's an easy, delightful read that is uplifting, inspiring and actionable. The world is ready and waiting!" -Robyn Stratton-Berkessel, Founder, PositivityStrategist.com "Because of overwhelming demands, organizations (or families) often become stuck in a cycle of urgency that creates patterns of what Stavros and Torres call critical or destructive conversations. This is a GREAT book because it tells you clearly HOW to change those to Conversations Worth Having. The instructions and examples are clear and inspiring. I invite you to read this excellent book and put the concepts into practice. You will then help create a positive and results-based environment that is exciting and affirming!" -Sue Annis Hammond, Founder of Thin Book Publishing Author, The Thin Book of Appreciative Inquiry "Congratulations - Jackie and Cheri share fresh, provocative, and practical wisdom on how to transition from downward-spiraling conversations to upward-spiraling possibility conversations. Leveraging these conversations worth having ultimately unleashes potential and co-creates innovative possibilities in our personal and professional life. This is open-creative, conversation space we all need to engage ourselves in. And, for those engaged in the Appreciative Inquiry or Positive Psychology communities, you will find this book quite useful to your research and practice in everyday life!" -Maria Socorro Marrisa Fernando, PhD, Program Director, MMOD Program Graduate School of Business, Assumption University of Thailand "As a homeschooling mom of five, I have lots of conversations with my kids throughout the day. Some are good....others not so much at times. The practices and principles in this book have given me a simple way to communicate more effectively with my children. I want our conversations to be positive and encouraging. I want to be able to empower them to use their strengths and abilities. Conversations using Appreciative Inquiry is an excellent way to do just that! I loved the examples given that showed me how to incorporate this into daily life and how to deal with potential conflicts." -Monica Chester, Homeschool Mom, and Nurse "The role of leadership has evolved so much in recent years but the reality is that many of those in leadership roles from supervisors to CEOs continue to underestimate the quantity and quality of the conversations they we have each day. Many leaders are still struggling to move people from the challenges of the past, to the limitless possibilities that are available in the future. Finally, Jackie and Cheri have written a book that provides concrete stories to remind us of the importance of being intentional with our conversations, and more important, provides us with the simple practices to move any conversation away from what we don't want, in a direction towards what we do. In my opinion, this book is an essential resource for everyone and anyone!" -Jeff Bouwman, Director of Finance and Operations, Western University Author, Your Income, Your Life "Shared through stories and grounded in science, Jackie and Cheri have made a wonderful contribution to the application of Appreciative Inquiry. Conversations Worth Having is an educational, practical, and engaging read. This book has moved me from interest, to hope, to heart felt awe and empathy! The stories shared are easy to connect with and provide concrete examples highlighting the application of the principles and science discussed. Reading this book will help you create quality connections that will bring out the best in yourself and others. The story by Jackie's daughter took me to tears - what an achievement to bring up such an optimistic and resilient young lady. I dream my daughters will be of the same nature as they grow up. This book is a timely reminder the importance of conversations in our life!" -Sarah Lawrence, Founder, Thriving Organisations "The authors make it clear, that the lifeblood of all relationships is our conversation. This applies both to our relationships (conversations) with others and ourselves. The appreciative principles and stories in this great book will inspire, enable, and guide the reader to nourish their relationships, one conversation at a time, by having conversations that are worthwhile. Thank you, Jackie and Cheri for this magnificent addition to Appreciative Inquiry literature!" -John Loty, Appreciative Facilitator, Forster, Australia "What a wonderfully inspiring and practical book for putting the principles and practices of Appreciative Inquiry into action in ways that will surely strengthen relationships and results." -Colette Herrick, Executive Leadership Coach and Organization Consultant, Insight Shift "Our organizations are a place where a group of people come together to a serve a common purpose and achieve goals. Our interactions allow the organization to flourish and sustain or whither and fade into obscurity. The stories and lessons presented in this book give us a new way to sustain all of the organizations of which we are a part. Whether a provider of health care or in the classroom, the concepts presented by Jackie and Cheri offer us a voice in the creation of a sustainable future that works for all!" -Dr. Paul A. Miklovich, Administrator, Cleveland Clinic "If conversations are worth having and they ARE! then, this book is CERTAINLY worth reading! The stories relayed here are rich in the practical application of Appreciative Inquiry (AI) with a depth of honesty, truth, and reality making the principles more easily transferable into our own lives. I've brought AI to the Royal Air Force, the National Health Service, the BBC and ITV, Warner Brothers, 3M, and more, to effect cultural and transformational change and create environments where creativity and innovation thrive. This book has taken my understanding and application of AI to the next level!" -Barry Bailey, Owner, Mobile Team Challenge Europe Executive Vice-president of 3M Europe "I fell in love with Appreciative Inquiry and changed my career because of this discovery that individuals, organizations, and even communities can create a future with a focus on the good and the best through conversations that really matter. Since 2003 my focus has been Conversational Leadership and its development in the world of organizations. Cheri and Jackie's book provides a safe, simple, and yet powerful way to identify and synthesize conversations beyond positive affirmations, generating a new approach on the already paved way of Appreciative Inquiry. Whether for family, professional or community use, Conversations Worth Having is a book you cannot miss reading." -Eduardo Magalh es Sarmento Afonso, Coach and Learning Host Atma Genus Consulting, Brasil "Prepare to get excited about the enormous potential of dialogue to create meaning in our relationships and inspire action toward a shared vision of success. The authors graciously release us from a limiting belief that to solve a problem we have to focus on it. Instead, they show us how to flip our thoughts and ask the right questions in order to move in the direction we desire. Practical, poignant, and always positive, Conversations Worth Having helps us grow as individuals, learning to build the bridges that connect us to what we do want at work, at home, in our neighborhoods and society." -Kelly Stewart, Founder, Attractivate and The Positive Business "In Conversations Worth Having, Stavros and Torres combine science and story-telling to help us learn practical ways to shift our conversations to more meaningful, purposeful and positive interactions using Appreciative Inquiry. What anyone in a conversation needs now!" -Louis Alloro, M.Ed., MAPP, Change-Agent, Center for the Advancement of Wellbeing "I enjoyed reading Conversations Worth Having. Having read many great books about Appreciative Inquiry (AI), I think it is an excellent addition to the AI knowledge base! The authors have shed light on an important aspect of AI - its value isn't limited to large scale organizational or systemic change initiatives as some practitioners may believe. It also applies to everyday conversations at home, in our workplaces, and with others around us. What I like in particular are the many "micro AI practices" this books shares. They are extremely useful tips that offer many ways to turn any conversation to an appreciative conversation that help everyone involved move forward!" -David Shaked, Managing Director, Almond Insight Author, Strength-based Lean Six Sigma "Conversations Worth Having is a unique approach on how we can purposefully use Appreciative Inquiry to achieve positive objectives and effective results. Its sincere integration of leadership and communication practices creates a win-win outcome for all those engaged in a conversation, be it in family, community, or organizational settings. This book is highly recommended as a pocket-side book for anyone who sees conversation as a sincere exchange to achieve mutually beneficial outcome for all involved." -Jean-Paul Meutcheho, Director of Sourcing and Corporate Sustainability Global Advanced Metals "I was aware and very intrigued with Appreciative Inquiry. I related to the story in Chapter 5 about using AI in strategic planning session with Washtenaw Literacy that has staying power with us in our conversations, three years later. After reading this new book, it is a reminder how to use AI not only in our strategic conversations but in any conversation with our staff, board members, volunteers, and the community we serve! Thank you, Jackie and Cheri for bringing the benefits of this approach to life for me." -Mary Jean Raab, President of Board of Directors, Washtenaw Literacy "Jackie and Cheri give us simplBack to Top ↑