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Conversations Worth Having
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Conversations can be critical and destructive, or they can be generative and productive. This book shows how to guarantee your conversations will help people, organizations, and communities flourish.

About the Author

JACKIE STAVROS is Professor at College of Management, Lawrence Technological University, Appreciative Inquiry Strategic Advisor at Flourishing Leadership Institute, and Associate at Taos Institute. She works across all sectors and in a variety of industries in leadership development, strategic planning, organization development, and change using Appreciative Inquiry and SOAR (www.soar-strategy.com). She has presented her research and work in over 25 countries. Author currently resides in Brighton,MI.

CHERI TORRES is a Partner at Innovation Partners International, a Senior Consultant at NextMove.is, and an Associate at the Taos Institute. She works with organizations in every sector to support effective leadership and team excellence. She facilitates AI Summits for strategic planning and has trained thousands of trainers and teachers in the use and practice of Appreciative Inquiry and Appreciative Facilitation. Author currently resides in Asheville, NC

Reviews

"This is the first book of its kind to take Appreciative Inquiry's profound promise of positive leadership into legacy-creating conversations. This one book can change lives, relationships, and organizations. In a world where so many conversations are separating us from the vast potentials, may this book change not just our world, but our world of conversations."
-David Cooperrider, Distinguished University Professor and Honorary Chair
Weatherhead School of Management, Case Western Reserve University and The David L. Cooperrider Center for Appreciative Inquiry, Champlain College, Stiller School of Business

"This is my favorite book on Appreciative Inquiry ever! It captures the core concepts in a tight package, explains everything well, and provides plenty of techniques so you can put it to work immediately! If you want to use Appreciative Inquiry in your work or at home, pick up this gem. You will enjoy the amazing stories and get a comprehensive education you can put to work immediately. Conversations are the currency of our lives. Their quality determines the depth of our relationships and the possibilities our future holds. This little book packs a powerful and profound punch on all fronts. Pick it up and learn exactly what you can do to immediately improve the quality of your interactions, opening the door to the future you most dearly want.
Wonderful! With grace and ease, this book provides a massive education. The stories alone are packed with power. The included techniques are easy to understand, comprehensive, and accessible. Conversations Worth Having is a remarkable, one-of-a-kind gift that you deserve. Big things will result from the people who put these tools to work." -Seth Kahan, Founder of the Visionary Leadership Academy
Author, Getting Change Right and Getting Innovation Right
"This book is for everyone, from managers striving to lead their teams more effectively, to parents trying to cultivate better conversations with their children. With real-life examples, Stavros and Torres help illustrate the simplicity of how appreciation plus inquiry can change lives!"
-Lindsey Godwin, Director of the David L. Cooperrider Center for Appreciative Inquiry
Professor, Robert P. Stiller School of Business, Champlain College
"Conversations Worth Having is exceptional! It's easy to read, relatable, and absolutely relevant. Ground breaking! Read this book if you want to be a great leader. Jackie and Cheri provide a comprehensive approach to improving communications in any setting." Awesome book!"
-Loyd Beal III, Lieutenant Colonel, United States Army "As a college president, one of the most important things I can do is engage members of the college in meaningful conversations, giving voice to all our stakeholders. The Appreciative Inquiry practices in this book have been transformational at our college. They have empowered us to have difficult conversations, strengthen our relationships, and focus on how we can together create even greater possibilities for our students to succeed."
-Annette Parker, President
South Central College, National Academy of Science, Center for Community College Student Engagement Board, and National Council for Adult and Experiential Learning Board
"Conversations Worth Having ... is a book worth having . . . and a must read book. This is a book all leaders of organisations, large and small, should read because Jackie Stavros and Cheri Torres show us through a combination of real life stories, practical wisdom, and just the right amount of science drawn from the fields of Appreciative Inquiry, Positive Psychology, and strengths, how conversations in workplace organizations determine the organizations capacity to flourish and the well-being of its team members. This one book shows the transitive, catalytic, and transformational power of conversations which are positive, affirmative, meaningful, strength based and life giving, versus those which are depletive. This is one of those short and easy to read books that will create a legacy for years to come by showing us why it is important to turn our conversations to the positive, and by providing us with tools on how to do this . . . We know that if we want people to care for our businesses and others, they must first feel cared for. As I read this book, it struck me that it is through conversations worth having, regardless of duration, that we show how much we care for others. Thank you for this wonderful gift that I can't wait to pass onto my teams, family and friends . . . and thank you for reminding us of the generative power of conversations worth having, to the countless relationships that make up the tapestry of life day each and every day."
-Robert Easton, Senior Managing Director, Accenture
"Wow! What a great book! I'm going to use it in my courses and with every client from now on. I find it very rare to read a book like this, one that is so compelling and practical that it not only provides simple guidelines anyone can use, but filled me with the desire to go use them right away in the next conversation I have. Once I started reading it I couldn't stop, and I immediately thought of a dozen clients and friends I want to give the book to. I believe that if you read and apply just the first two chapters your life, at work and at home, will change for the better!"
-Gervase R. Bushe Ph.D. Professor of Leadership and Organization Development,
Beedie School of Business, Simon Fraser University, Vancouver, Canada
Author, Clear Leadership: Sustaining Collaboration and Partnership at Work "Conversations Worth Having has shifted the way I enter, engage, and react in my daily conversations. It has opened my eyes to how easy it is to shift from impulsive, emotional reactivity to productive, mindful conversations. When this book came to me, I was struggling to adjust to the 'adult' phase in my life. I had taken on several new roles: becoming a manager, a wife; I felt overwhelmed by the obstacles and responsibilities that had come my way. After learning to practice the Appreciative Inquiry principles outlined in this book, I have been able to shift my viewpoint to focusing on the solutions that I am capable of pursuing instead of giving all my energy to the problems I face. This book has provided me with tools that have helped me to express myself genuinely, listen to and understand others, rearrange my responsibilities and become a more valuable version of myself- at work and home. It's helped me deal with conflict in a more productive manner. By flipping my attitude and tone of the conversations I engage in, I find myself in a more balanced, peaceful state of mind." "Jackie and Cheri - thank you so much for sharing this book with me. It came to me just when I needed it."
-Stephanie Schlueter, Manager, Natural View Market
"I have had hundreds of conversations each day with students, parents, and staff. With students, I try to practice my philosophy that every conversation, even with serious disciplinary issues and consequences, is an opportunity!! With parents, I often say 'I am just a dad who also happens to be a high school principal'. With staff, I often say 'I am your colleague not just the boss'. After reading Conversations Worth Having, I now have an evidence-based framework that has filled in the blanks of what I have been trying to accomplish in my career. I am trying to build emotion, trust, 'meaningful engagement' and Appreciative Inquiry into my daily conversations! This book has re-enforced my belief that each and every discussion, with any person, has the true potential to build a connection! How I act in this conversation, how I lead, and how I engage the individual will almost assuredly dictate if I make a connection or not. It is up to me to frame the discussion, especially in my position of authority, in order to create a community of engagement. I also often tell my students that I like to 'hand the keys of the building' to them. This is my simple way of modeling that this building of bricks is their school, their home, their community. Conversations Worth Having made me reflect that every single conversation I have can be the next brick in this building, in our learning community. Every conversation can be the individual brick that become the solid foundation, of which outstanding organizations are built upon! Stavros and Torres have put into words how to simply and effectively build any team, any organization, and any company without any financial expense. Words are just sounds, without the heart behind them. The authors remind us to use your head to frame the conversation, and then just as importantly, to back it up with your heart. Each word and each conversation WILL affect your team. HOW it affects your team is up to you, if you intentionally make it a conversation worth having."
-Gavin Johnson, Principal, Brighton High School
Father of Ally and Emma
"Using engaging stories from their years of consulting experience with Appreciative Inquiry, Jackie and Cheri offer the first real practical guide to fundamentally changing our conversations to bring about the positive change we thirst for in ourselves, our relationships, and our organizations. The simplicity with which they present the principles and practices for doing so makes this my go-to resource for working with leaders."
-Neil Samuels, President, Profound Conversations, Inc.
Author, The Heathside Story--Appreciative Inquiry in Whole School Transformation
"We often get stuck in seeing the world through a lens that's distorted. Everything it seems is broken, hopeless, and unchangeable. Through such a lens, doing great work is nearly impossible. That's why -- for leaders and managers in any organization -- reading Cheri and Jackie's book is essential. The simple techniques it teaches will help people shake off the distortions of a problem-heavy worldview, and help them see the world as a place of potential, creativity, and continuous growth. By following the book's edicts, a business culture fueled by top-notch success will be well within your grasp."
-Mark Levy, Founder of Levy Innovation LLC
Author, Accidental Genius: Using Writing to Generate Your Best Ideas, Insight, and Content
"This short book is a rare gem, it is entertaining, relevant, educational, and immensely practical. Jackie and Cheri synthesize vast amounts of research and years of their own practice, into powerful and educational stories on how to use Appreciative Inquiry in conversations. The two: practices: positive framing and asking generative questions, provide the reader with the skills needed to confidently engage in making any conversation a conversation worth having." -Maureen McKenna, Founder, Return on Energy, Toronto, Canada
"Jackie and Cheri really show how we can truly change the world one conversation at a time. Through their effective use of storytelling, you learn how to apply Appreciative Inquiry to engage in conversations designed to generate new ideas, create energy, and result in positive outcomes!"
-Lori Marsee Kuehn, Senior Manager Global Employee Engagement,
Strategy Enablement and Research, General Motors Company
"We create our worlds one conversation at a time. This timely book helps us see more clearly the crucial difference between productive conversations that are generative and life giving and conversations which reduce our capacity for constructive change. It illuminates powerful Appreciative Inquiry practices and principles that can transform a leaders' personal experience and can offer organizations and communities constructive paths forward in these challenging times. It helps us see the way that conversation can be a powerful co-evolutionary force for the common good at a time when this perspective is sorely needed."
-Juanita Brown, Co-founder, World Caf
Author, The World Caf Shaping Our Futures Through Conversations that Matter


"A conversation is the smallest visible unit of change - a micro-moment of transformation, our starting point for every important change effort. Jackie and Cheri give us a great playbook for having positive cycles of conversations worth having, sure to spark widespread innovation, authentic shifts in culture, and system wide resilience. These interactions create the macro-movements that purpose driven leaders need. This book is a gift to the world, business, schools, and families!"
-Jon Berghoff, President, Flourishing Leadership Institute
"Conversations Worth Having blends together a lot of complex science into easily grasped constructs, interesting anecdotes about personal and organizational conversations, and practical advice about how to frame conversations in ways that make people want to engage and take action. An entertaining and fascinating read.! You will never look at yourself, your organization, or your world of conversations quite the same way."
-Irmgard Wobeser, Family and Couples Therapist
Centro Psicologico de Cancun, Mexico
"Conversations With Having is the first book I would recommend for leaders who want to be more effective and for those aspiring to be future leaders! As I read the book, I thought back to the most effective leaders with whom I've worked over my career and who helped shape my behavior. They naturally followed the practices and principles in this book. I recommend this book to all managers who want to be a partner in a consulting firm, all junior managers in Fortune 500 firms who desire to be senior executives, all cadets studying to be Army officers, all those who desire to be good parents and everybody else who want to have great relationships."
-Daniel K. Saint, PhD, Former Partner and Global Practice Leader, Deloitte
"In Conversations Worth Having, Stavros and Torres brilliantly translate the practices and principles of Appreciative Inquiry, a process for large-scale organizational change, into well-defined everyday communication practices for enhancing personal relationships at work and beyond. The wealth of stories about people who have actually applied their ideas makes this book interesting, accessible and highly useful. If you are wondering how to improve relationships at work or at home, this book is for you!"
-Diana Whitney, Ph.D. Founder, Corporation for Positive Change
Co-Founder, The Taos Institute
Author, Appreciative Leadership, and The Power of Appreciative Inquiry
"Conversations Worth Having is a gift to us in a timely manner. Jackie Stavros and Cheri Torre's work has broad significance and relevance anywhere. It encompasses importance of conversations at the micro-level with individuals, groups, and corporations to the mega levels to address international economic and political, military conflicts. Their appreciative approach is addressed in an atmosphere of learning and professional enrichment. Imagine a world we would have inherited had the world leaders not engaged in impactful conversations on behalf of the freedom and value of life. Global conversations were tipped in favor of life, peace, and humanity by the strategic conversations among world leaders. At a larger scale, meaningful conversations at all levels foster impactful positive changes in people and nations. Stavros and Torres through various stories bring to fore challenges and offer potential solutions via conversations in an admirable manner. The launch of this book is a welcome addition to the literature on effective communication. A reader will benefit in seeking and identifying solutions to life's daily and perpetual issues of importance. The authors' undertaking of the project of this magnitude should be received with appreciation and admiration."
-Virinder Moudgil, Ph.D, President and CEO, Lawrence Technological University
"The heart of all conversations is how we how we understand each other and how we build trust. That, for me, is the power of Appreciative Inquiry. People with problems at work or home don't always think Appreciative Inquiry. Yet, that is the best time to explore possibilities. This seems to be the most challenging for most people new to this field. Cheri and Jackie have marvelously struck the right notes of practice and embracing understanding. Their framing and flipping exercises are a gift, and I cannot wait to introduce the stories, exercises and practices in our workshops and trainings."

-Kathy Becker, CEO, Company of Experts, Inc.,
Lead Designer & Trainer, Center for Appreciative Inquiry


"Conversations Worth Having is a great work and a must-read for business managers, team members, and people who work in groups! Jackie and Cheri demonstrate how to make a positive impact. They sincerely show that people have a wealth of positive energy that is best released through appreciative conversations. Through the art of our conversations, we can turn bad situations to positive ones. Appreciate Inquiry nourishes and encourages productive practices and not defensive outcomes. It facilitates meaningful conversations with people who make a difference in our lives and in our businesses - especially those individuals who are the cornerstones in any successful endeavor." -Massood Omrani, Ph.D., Managing Director, CADFEM Americas, Inc.
"The greatest thing about Conversations Worth Having is that it provides a window into the quality of our own thinking and inner dialogue. We carry on conversations in our mind without realizing much of the time the impact they have on our health, success, and happiness. Jackie and Cheri teach people how to alter their inner dialogue in order to improve their lives. Equipped with these skills, the reader will be able to better apply the skills of positive influence in the workplace and have better conversations in their personal lives. This book succinctly shows how to have effective daily interactions at work, at home, and with our own selves!" -Dan Casetta, Western Region Manager, Vector Marketing/Cutco Corporation
"Everywhere in the world right now is the crucial time for connection through conversations. In their new book, Conversations Worth Having, Jackie Stavros and Cheri Torres set out a pathway to lead us past our polarities. Using real time stories and the models from research, these two Appreciative Inquiry experts have written a book that will help individuals, organizations, and families navigate the choppy waters of differences."
-Marge Schiller, Founder, Positive Change Core
Author, Appreciative Leadership
"Conversations Worth Having provides practical ways to use Appreciative Inquiry in everyday situations. Electronics, telework, virtual meetings, and dispersed offices have replaced our daily, face-to-face conversations so that more than ever we need the type of conversations discussed in this book to solve problems, create meaningful dialogue, and build lasting productive relationships. They provide two simple practices including my favorite: asking generative questions. Great book!"
-Dr. Jennifer A Hitchcock, Executive Director
U.S. Army Tank Automotive Research and Development Center
"How do we engage in conversations in ways that foster thriving and well-being in our workplaces, our families, and our lives more generally? After reading this book, you will be fully equipped to answer this question and to engage in conversations in ways that make a positive difference. Jackie and Cheri use their extensive knowledge and practice with Appreciative Inquiry to unlock the potential in conversations. This book is brimming with insights, stories, and practical tools that will change your capacity to have meaningful conversations with others. The book is a gift to leaders, change agents and individuals of all types who wish to engage in conversations as a means for creating positive change in ourselves and in others! I loved this book!" -Jane Dutton, Robert L. Kahn Distinguished Professor Emerita
Business Administration and Psychology
Ross School of Business, University of Michigan
Author, Awakening Compassion at Work
"An amazing book! This book provides practices to positively transform your life, family, organization, and our world. Every conversation is an opportunity to elevate a person, a situation, a culture. You'll learn how to make the most of your interactions. This is a must-read to deepen connections, strengthen relationships, and change the world one conversation at a time. Thank you Jackie and Cheri for dedicating yourself to this practice and teaching us how to have Conversations Worth Having. Everyone needs to read this book!" -Betsy Crouch and Zoe Galvez, Co-Founders, ImprovHQ


"As a city planner who engages in all kinds of conversations with multiple stakeholders at the grass-roots to the local and state levels, this book is a great resource on how to have a conversation worth having! The scenarios from the authors' experience with actual clients provide insight into how to simply have great conversations that works for all. This book will be by your side to guide you through any conversation in any moment. Keep it close by!" -John F. Baran, City Planner, City of Detroit

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