Appreciative intelligence is an extremely useful psychological competence. Above all, it helps us to recognize our strengths. But also to see and use the opportunities that surround us.
This concept appeared in 2006 with the publication of the book "Appreciative Intelligence: Seeing the Mighty Oak in the Acorn" by Carol Metzker and Professor Tojo Thatchenkery of George Mason University in Arlington.
They defined appreciative intelligence as "the ability to see the positive, inherent generative potential in a given situation and act intentionally to transform the potential into results."
Based on their own research as well as recent discoveries in cognitive psychology and neuroscience, Thatchenkery and Metzker provide evidence for appreciative intelligence, detail its specific characteristics, and show how you can develop this skill and use it in your own life and work.
They also show how the most effective leaders are able to promote appreciative intelligence throughout the organization. They also offer tools and exercises that you can use to increase your own level of appreciative intelligence and thus become more creative, resilient, successful, and personally fulfilled.
It is worth devoting a few words to Professor Thatchenkery here. He is the author of over a dozen books and over a hundred peer-reviewed articles. He is one of the leading authors in the field of appreciative intelligence and has written three books on this alone. He used the Appreciative Intelligence® concept to develop the leadership of hundreds of senior managers around the world.
He also developed a methodology called ASK ( Appreciative Sharing of Knowledge) in which he introduced the Appreciative Inquiry (AI) approach. It is a 5-step methodical approach to change (5D: Dawn, Discovery, Dream, Design, Delivery) that can be used by individuals, teams, organizations, and even at the social level.
And in another book (Making the Invisible Visible) Thatchenkery introduced the concept of quiet leadership as a key factor driving innovation in organizations.
In general, Tatchenkery is recognized as one of the most eminent contemporary thinkers on change, which has been confirmed, inter alia, by included in Palgrave Handbook of Organizational Change Thinkers, 2017, the first handbook to offer a comprehensive overview of outstanding thinkers about organizational change.
Appreciative intelligence and its three components
Appreciative intelligence is a skill that, theoretically, each of us has. Something that people can apply at any time. According to Thatchenkery, this type of intelligence has the following three components:
Re-framing - reformulation is about changing our view of reality by choosing what feedback we ignore and which we will pay attention to.
Appreciating the positives - This is the ability to see the positive aspects in any situation.
Seeing how the future unfolds from the present - refers to the ability to see what may happen in the future as a result of using the so-called generative aspects of the current situation.
How to develop an appreciative intelligence?
This can be done by following these steps:
Acceptance - It all starts with a fundamental acceptance and the fact that we will experience negative, opposite, and even tragic things in life.
Responsibility - realizing that we are responsible for our lives and we make choices. And therefore, despite adversities, we have the choice not to give up on them
Stopping - Practicing stopping and knowingly choosing our response to a given situation
Questioning your own beliefs - consciously observing yourself and checking if my first reaction to a given situation is depriving me of available positives
Asking questions - questions that open up new possibilities and focus on a solution in the future
In essence, it all boils down to saying that an effective way to face problems or even to take advantage of them, is to consciously change your mindset.
Coaching and appreciative intelligence
Reading the descriptions of appreciative intelligence, I immediately thought to myself: hey, this is coaching! The very first element of re-framing is actually the basis and essence of coaching work. And one of the most valuable things that a coach can do for the Client / Coachee: look at oneself / situation from a completely different perspective, and thus see opportunities that have not been visible so far.
So if I were to risk a simple equation, I would write:
Appreciating Intelligence = Self-Coaching
I would also write that successfully developing appreciative intelligence requires maturity and an already developed level of self-awareness. And therefore, I would suggest that you first get the support of a good coach (to learn to work on yourself) and only then start developing your own appreciative intelligence.