Conducting Your Own Appreciative Interview
An appreciative interview is a wonderful way for you to help another person focus on the best they have to offer in the world. The interview can be formal or informal, hours in length, or just a single question.
Whatever form you take, remember to keep the questions focused on the positive aspects of life you would like the person to be able to appreciate more fully and to see appreciate in value.
Sometimes a single question is enough. You meet a person and begin talking about their work as a teacher, musician, parent, furniture maker, physician or whatever. You can ask:
“What do you like most about being a…?”
“Tell me about a time that really stands out as a high point experience being a…”
That might be enough. From there, you let your curiosity find follow-up questions that keep the positive, appreciative focus of the conversation.
Why ask positive and appreciative questions? Why not ask about problems and weaknesses? Because such questions will change the nature and power of the conversation. Most of us spend plenty of time talking about negatives in life and our news is overwhelmingly focused on the problems in our world. View your appreciative conversation as an experiment in what happens when you keep the focus on positive aspects you wish to appreciate in life. I think you will be pleased with what you discover and you will find that people look forward to talking with you.
Keep the focus on two areas:
When are you at your best in life? What are your strengths? What moments stand out in your life? What are some key things you’ve learned in your life and how did you learn these things?
What do you want to see in your life? What do you want to bring to the world? What are your hopes for your family, neighborhood, town, world…?
If you want to conduct a more structured and in-depth interview, below are sets of questions to use with adults. Feel free to copy and print these questions. I only ask that you leave the information at the bottom of the page in full.
Interview Questions for Adults
Opening: I’m curious about the positive aspects of people and the positives influences they have had in life. I have a few questions I would like to ask you. It will take about 20 minutes and I think you will find it very rewarding. Do you want to give it a try?
1. Think about two or three people (other than your parents) who have had a very positive influence on your life. How did the influence occur? What did these people do? How do you feel as you talk about these people?
2. What are some times that stand out as real high points in your life? When have you felt you were most in touch with your strengths, talents, and your best self? What are the circumstances of these times? What do they tell you about yourself?
3. Without being humble, what do you value most about yourself in life? Consider your different roles in life such as community member, parent, spouse, etc.
4. When you feel best about the work you do in the world, what about your work gives you a positive feeling? What are you contributing? What aspects of yourself are you bringing to your work?
5. What lifts your spirits and makes you feel glad to be alive?
6. How was the experience of this interview for you? How did it change your mood and outlook?
Interview Questions for Children
Opening: I’m interested in what you think and have some questions I would like to ask you. There are no right or wrong answers to these questions. Whatever you say is fine and you don’t have to answer the questions. Ready to start?
What do you like best about being a kid?
When you think of your friends, what do you like most about these people?
What do you like most about yourself?
What’s something you are really good at?
What do you enjoy most about school?
What are some of the best things parents, grandparents, teachers, and other adults do for kids?
What are your dreams for the future?