Life Coaching and Appreciative Inquiry

life coaching

What is Appreciative Inquiry and what is its relationship to life coaching? Appreciative Inquiry is a process of change implementation and attainment that has been developed in the eighties by two American academicals. It is a strengths-based change management approach. It can be implemented on an organizational as well as on a personal level. Most change management methodologies have the tendency to start on a negative perspective, in the sense that they first seek the problem; they analyze it thoroughly and then find the solution. The main difference in Appreciative Inquiry consists in that the starting point is a positive perspective. In other words, in Appreciative Inquiry you start by looking at what works and you build on this information, aiming at the development of a better, more effective and successful future.

If we talk about life coaching on a business level, perhaps it would be more correct to use the term business coaching. However, it should be clear that business coaching as well as the other specializations such as executive coaching, relationship coaching, etc, they all fall under the umbrella of life coaching or coaching in general. So, what is the relationship between life coaching and Appreciative Inquiry?

This relationship arises in a clear manner if we study the basic principles of Appreciative Inquiry as well as its main implementation steps. Among the main principles of Appreciative Inquiry, belong the following: A) Words create worlds, meaning that reality is not an objective fact but a subjective experience. By changing the way we describe this experience, we change the way we see things. B) The change process begins at the moment we start posing questions. C) We can create a positive change, by creating positive images of the future.

Appreciative Inquiry is implemented in four distinct stages. During the first stage, the discover stage, it is explored what is best, what are the strengths and what are the positive stories. During the second stage, the dream stage, it is created a positive vision that is based on the descriptions and the stories that have been revealed in the discover stage. In the third stage, the design stage, it is explored how we could go towards the positive vision that was defined in the previous stage. The fourth stage is about planning and the actual actions that need to be taken in order to reach the positive future that we have envisioned.

The implementation process of Appreciative Inquiry is a life coaching or business coaching process. On a business level, the coaching sessions can be conducted either with individual executives or with corporate teams. In the frame of personal life coaching sessions, Appreciative Inquiry can be also implemented successfully outside the corporate world, with individuals that wish to implement change in their lives. Through powerful questioning, visualization, perspective reframing methodologies and other life coaching tools, a life coach can implement effectively the four stages of Appreciaitve Inquiry and attain the desired outcomes.