The Value of Appreciation

Moving from Fear to Appreciation


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Moving from Fear to Appreciation

When something negative happens to you, what is your natural reaction? If you are like most people, your instinct for survival will immediately cause you to ask fear-based questions. (find out why) Of course, the problem is that these questions offer little or no help and cause us to feel stuck. People who are optimistic, happy and indispensable tend to ask questions rooted in gratitude and appreciation. Notice the difference:


  • Why me?
  • Who is at fault?
  • How bad will it get?
  • What if I don’t have what it takes?
  • What if I can’t do it alone?
  • Why can’t we agree?
  • What if I lose control?


  • Why not me? or What can I learn?
  • What do I want?
  • What’s the best thing that could happen?
  • How have I solved similar problems?
  • Who can help me?
  • What do I appreciate or respect about this person?
  • What can I do to take more control of the situation I’m in?

ap·pre·ci·ate, verb

1. to be grateful or thankful for; to admire greatly; to value or regard highly; to recognize the quality, significance, or magnitude of; to be fully conscious of; be aware of; detect.

2. to raise or increase in value.

in·quire, verb

1. a search for knowledge; to seek information by questioning; the act of exploration and discovery.

2. a systematic investigation of a matter of public interest.

Appreciative Questions

Listed below are 21 groups of questions that will help you focus forward given the many different scenarios you face at work. Ask these types of questions enough and it will literally change your problem-solving orientation.

1. You want people to be more ALIVE – ENGAGED at work:

Think about a time in your career when you were alive and engaged.

Tell me about a time when you felt most committed to this organization.

What were you doing? What did you accomplish? How did you feel about it?

What did you have control of?

What made your sense of ALIVENESS possible?

2. You want to have more FUN at work:

Describe a time when you were most happy at work.

Describe a time when you really had fun at work.

What were you doing? What made it fun? Who was involved?

How did people around you—coworkers, customers, suppliers—respond to the fun you were having?

What could you replicate from this experience that could turn up the volume on fun now?

3. You want to stimulate CREATIVITY:

Describe one of the most creative projects you’ve ever worked on.

Tell me about one of the most innovative products or services you’ve been a part of creating.

What was creative about it? What turned you on about the project?

What impact did it have in the market?

How can you bring this creative spirit to the work you are doing now?

4. You want to improve COMMUNICATION:

Gives us the best example of a time when it was safe to hold a candid dialogue where you work.

Tell us about a time when communication between you and a colleague or customer really “jelled.”

Who was involved? What made the conversation(s) open and helpful?

Describe the give and take between talking and listening. Between telling and questioning.

How did you create mutual understanding?

What was the outcome?

5. You want to raise the level of TEAMWORK:

Tell us about a team you were on that really clicked.

Paint a picture of a world-class team that you have observed.

What brought the team together?

How did you leverage the diversity of thoughts, ideas and styles of individual members?

What exactly did members do to accomplish a win?

Why were you excited to be part of this team?

What can you do to re-create a similar dynamic for another project?

6. You want to jettison TRIBALISM and promote COLLABORATION:

Describe a time when you collaborated extremely well with—and felt a sense of partnership with—another department.

What made this collaboration possible?

How did you handle disagreements? How was trust promoted and respect protected?

How did you feel about the people in the other department?

What did you accomplish together? How did you celebrate/honor your accomplishments?

What did you appreciate about this other person/department? Why?

What were your common interests/objectives?

What one or two things did each of you do to move toward a win-win?

What happened when you were successful?

7. You want the organization to be more CUSTOMER-CENTRIC:

Tell us about a customer who is turned-on and evangelistic about what the organization does.

Why is this customer such a fan? What did we do to create such loyalty?

How would this customer describe us to another potential customer?

How does it feel to create a customer relationship like this?

8. You want the individual to be more CUSTOMER-CENTRIC:

Describe a time when you assumed ownership for the customer’s experience.

How did you go above-and-beyond the call of duty to WOW the customer?

How did the customer respond?

What other customers in your portfolio would benefit from this approach?

9. You want to create a spirit of HOSPITALITY:

Describe a time when you were on the receiving end of someone’s hospitality.

How did this person offer hospitality? How did this make you feel?

What impact did it have on your relationship?

Tell us about a time when you were on the giving side of hospitality.

How did you make the other person(s) feel welcomed?

How did they respond to the experience you created?

10. You want to establish the WHY behind the HOW of an organizational CHANGE:

If we are wildly successful what will it do for us individually? Collectively?

How will this success contribute to the larger cause for which we fight?

How will the company benefit from it? How will you personally benefit from it?

11. You want to raise the bar on PERFORMANCE:

What do you think you’ve done particularly well? What small or big wins have you had?

What strengths do you think contributed to your success?

How could those strengths be leveraged to raise the bar?

How could those strengths be applied to this new objective?

If you raised the bar successfully what would that mean to you?

How would it make you feel?

12. You want people to live your CORPORATE VALUES out loud:

Think of a person in your organization whom you really admire for walking the walk.

Describe a situation in which you saw this person live our corporate values out loud?

What happened? What was the outcome?

Find a moment at the start of your day and revisit your values. Identify two or three ways you can live those values out loud in the activities scheduled for the day.

13. You want to create a BOOMING CULTURE:

When you think about companies that are extraordinary magnets for world-class talent, what makes them so attractive?

When this organization is firing on all cylinders—rocking—what gives it life?

What kinds of attitudes do people who bring life to the organization have?

Tell us about the support systems and technology that are totally enabling in this firm?

If you could wave a magic wand over this culture to give it health and vitality and exuberance what three things would you wish for?

14. You want better CORPORATE CITIZENSHIP:

Describe a time when your organization got involved in giving back to the community.

What did you do? What was the experience like? How did the community respond?

How did people in your organization feel about participating?

What unique talents and resources does your company have now that could benefit the community?

How would your company and its people benefit from being more involved in the community?

15. You want people to value their DIFFERENCES:

Describe a time when you worked really well with someone (or a team) who is radically different from you.

How did you overcome any uneasiness about working with this person (team)?

How did his or her strengths complement yours?

Tell us about what you accomplished together. How did that feel?

What did this relationship teach you?

How will you apply what you learned in future relationships where people are different?

16. You want people to LIVE CORPORATE VALUES out loud:

Who really walks the walk around here?

What does this person do to live company values out loud?

How do you feel about working with this person?

What kind of impact does this individual have on the organization?

If this person were asked to describe a time when YOU lived the company’s values out loud, tell us the story he or she would tell.

17. You want to foster more CELEBRATION:

Tell us about a time when your company did a great job of recognizing and honoring someone’s accomplishments.

What kind of celebration was it? What was it like? How did people feel?

What type of celebration/recognition inspires you the most?

What is it that makes this kind of celebration meaningful to you? To your team?

18. You want to turn up the volume on LEADERSHIP:

When you think about great leaders who create great places where great people can do their best work, what do they have in common?

When you think about your boss, what is the greatest contribution he or she has made to your career?

Who are the best leaders in your organization? What do they do to draw the best out of others?

What kind of results do they get?

19. You want people to take more RISKS:

Describe a time when you were afraid to try something new and did it anyway.

What was the situation? What happened?

Looking back on what you accomplished, how do you feel about it?

If you were given an opportunity to try something risky again, how would you draw upon the experience you just described?

20. You want the organization to move with SPEED, AGILITY and ADAPTIVENESS:

Describe a time when your organization moved incredibly fast to get something done or adapted to a shift in the market or in technology.

What kind of leadership did it take to make this happen?

What impact did the company’s structure have on the company’s ability to move with speed?

What impact did the company’s systems and policies have on the company’s ability to be flexible?

How did people communicate during this time?

What kind of systems, structure and leadership will enable your organization to move with speed, agility and “adaptiveness?”

21. You want to leverage TECHNOLOGY to get smarter, better, faster:

What is the most liberating (it truly serves you) form of technology you use in your company?

How does this technology make your life at work easier? Why is it so powerful?

What makes it user-friendly?

Imagine if our company had technology that made everyone’s life easier:

What would that technology look like?

How would it be deployed in the organization?

What kind of training would support it?

What would cause people to embrace it enthusiastically?

Want to know why these questions work and why they are so powerful?

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