Appreciative Inquiry ‘Being’

Hands reaching for the skyA while ago I had the opportunity to attend a two-day workshop in my home town of Melbourne, Australia, on Appreciative Inquiry.

The facilitator of the workshop was Gervase Bushe, a leading international figure on Appreciative Inquiry.

During the workshop Gervase made a comment that resonated with my experience in teaching Tai Chi (Chinese health and self-defence system).

He said, in relation to facilitating Appreciative Inquiry, “just be.”

In Tai Chi we use the same principle when learning ‘the form’, which is a series of connected flowing movements.

When a student achieves the ‘just be’ experience then the chi (energy) will flow.

You actually live the form, so it is a natural part of you.

To achieve the ‘just be’ feeling, one needs to go through the process of analysing and focusing on learning each movement.

However the concentration on learning becomes a mechanical process which actually inhibits achieving the ‘just be’ state.

How does one overcome the barriers to ‘just be’ with regard to Appreciative Inquiry?

Do your research and read up on Appreciative Inquiry. A good source is  ‘The Power of Appreciative Inquiry by Diana Whitney and Amanda Trosten-Bloom.

Observe the process of AI by working with an AI practitioner or attending a workshop.

I have the opportunity to observe my colleague, Sue James, an experienced AI practitioner, in our workshops over the past 12 months. We combine Appreciative Inquiry and Tai Chi on themes such as leadership, teamwork, performance etc. We call it AQ (Appreciative Intelligence) and KQ (Kinaesthetic Intelligence).

Also I have observed Gervase Bushe demonstrate AI in the two-day workshop, which has given me a further appreciation of AI.

Practice what you have learned on AI. Working with Sue, I have had the chance to use and teach aspects of AI with various groups of participants.

You need to feel the AI concepts to understand and experience the concept of ‘to be.’

I have been using various aspects of AI in my own life and when teaching Tai Chi. For example, I am now asking different questions and getting more positive and energized responses. This experience has
given me a “feel” for AI.

I’ve found the best way to understand AI is to live it. That is, use AI in your personal life so it has meaning to you and the people with whom you come in contact.


Because this experience allows you to model AI when working with a group and people can detect whether you are genuine or you are using AI as just another a technique. If you use AI as a technique then you
become a technician and you will never be able ‘to be.’

So to understand Appreciative Inquiry fully you need ‘to be.’

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