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The Power of Playful Inquiry

The Power of Playful Inquiry

BY Michelle McQuaid

If you were to get stuck in a taxi during grid-lock traffic today, how would you respond? Would you fret about your plans being ruined as the minutes ticked away? Would you berate yourself for not having taken the train? Would you complain to the taxi driver about the state of the world? Or might you turn to them and ask: “So what’s been the best thing that’s happened to you today?”

This is positivity strategist, Robyn Stratton-Berkessel’s favorite question to ask. No she’s not crazy, she’s just found that whether it’s a taxi driver, a business leader, or a group of school children, asking appreciative questions about what’s working well for people opens up new realms of possibility, connection and positive emotions such as joy, gratitude, curiosity, kindness and love.

In fact she suggests that the questions we ask and the words we speak are what create the world in which we live. Find out how by watching Robyn’s TedX talk.

What Will You Learn?

  •  [1:00] When you ask  “What’s the best thing that’s happened to you today?” you are looking for what is working in others’ lives, what gives them joy, and what is energizing. This positivity has the potential to increase your understanding, tolerance, heartfelt connections and let you experience fourteen positive emotions. It’s words that create our worlds.
  • [9:00] The positive emotions you can experience include: joy (reliving good times), delight (laughter), curiosity (what you might find out), courage (being brave enough to ask, especially with strangers), respect (for their story), gratitude (we all have a story and want to be heard), interest (its wonderful when people are interested in what we have to say), playfulness (feeling upbeat), and love (in the largest sense that we are all part of humanity).
  • [11:00] Appreciative questions can connect you to others through recognising that what’s good in yourself, can overlap in what’s good in others.  We are all participating in creating this world together.
  • [12.00] What we focus on grows. So imagine if decision makers, educators, media, healthcare professionals, and business leaders focused their attention on discovering what’s right, what works, and what’s good – instead of what’s broken, what doesn’t work, and what’s bad. What kind of world might we begin to fast track?
  • [13:00] “Remember you don’t fear people whose story you know. Real listening always brings people together. Trust that meaningful conversation can change your world. Rely on human goodness.” From a poem by Margaret Wheatley

What Can You Try?

  • Find ways to ask: “What’s the best thing that’s happened to you today?” everyday.  Start by using it with your partner, family or friends when you get home from work to discover how their day has been. Really listen to their answers. Notice how this conversation leaves you feeling.  Notice what happens to your relationship.
  • Start your team meetings with this question. Notice how the increased positive emotions, impact the connections, conversations and decisions that are made. Experiment with other appreciative questions like: “What’s working well?”, “What have we done that’s made us feel proud?”, and “What’s pleasantly surprised you about your work recently?”

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