Do This to Decrease Tension In Your Relationships

With holidays quickly approaching you may find yourself in more situations where there is tension. It might be with a co-worker, friend, or family member. When this happens, you need to know there are some beginning steps you can take to work through the tension without damaging your relationship. Positive Psychology research indicates promising results using Appreciative Inquiry both at work and at home.

What is Appreciative Inquiry?

Appreciative Inquiry is a way of talking to someone that focuses attention away from the problem and toward the solution. It is not denying negatives. They are acknowledged without labeling them as a problem. You might say something like, "We both seem to see this differently. Let's come up with a solution we can both agree to." This is taking a positive approach to learning and change that reveals possibilities. Think of it as setting a foundation upon which you can move forward with respect.

Appreciative Inquiry is based on the belief that:

  • What you expect to happen influences your choices and what you do.
  • A positive focus supports positive outcomes and well-being.

This means that your image of the future guides your current actions and behavior. You create your future in the present as you are making choices. You also carry your best actions and behaviors from the past forward leaving negatives in the past. You do this by creating your future through your current choices and attention.

To test this out for yourself in one or more different situations, ask yourself:

  1. What are the times when you are at your best at work, as a parent, or in a relationship?
  2. What is a peak experience you have had at work, parenting, or in a relationship?
  3. Who do you admire for their skills and abilities at work, in parenting, or in a relationship?
  4. What are one or two things you would like to do more of in your work, as an effective parent, or in your relationship?
  5. What do you need to feel good about yourself at work, as a parent, in a relationship?

Write down what you have learned about yourself from answering these questions. They access the best experiences from your past, as well as the present. Using this information helps you clarify the direction you need to move in bringing more of what you want into your life. Creating a sense of appreciation and respect in relationships keeps them healthy.

This type of communication establishes a positive foundation on which you can build more conversations, set goals and take positive action. These are also good questions to ask someone else when they are in a receptive mood. It might be with someone at work, your children, or with someone you are in a relationship with. You will need to practice doing this over time until you become comfortable with your newly developed skill.

Where can you begin to use Appreciative Inquiry in your life?

Until next time,


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