I really appreciated this story invitation shared by Tova Averbuch on the Open Space Technology listserv:
As a way of making room for this process of… (the question of the OST) let us start with a story telling circle. We are calling for stories that you feel moved to tell, stories that want to be told. Sad stories and glad stories, funny stories and mad stories…. All are invited and welcome to show up and be heard and stay with us as a rich and fertile ground.
It resonated with me because it invited a wide range of stories, not just positive stories. Because Appreciative Inquiry is one of the core methods in the Art of Hosting it can be easy to fall into a pattern of only asking the strengths-based questions. But I think there are important times to invite in, as Tova described, the sad stories and glad stories, funny stories and mad stories. With too much focus on the Appreciative Inquiry approach we run the risk of creating shadow of what is ‘not okay to talk about’. I see this played out in organizations when people learn it’s risky to constructively criticize a new initiative otherwise you aren’t seen as a team player. Oh, and what do you think of the emperor’s new clothes?