Explore Tough Interpretations

Exploring tough or uncomfortable interpretations means pushing beyond people’s opinions and conclusions, especially the ones that come automatically, almost unconsciously. You may need to get more skeptical or keep an open mind. You may need to thoughtfully question the perspective of the person in authority. You may need to look at the situation from someone else’s point of view. You may need to reexamine values and priorities. The key thing to remember about an interpretation, yours or someone else’s, is that it is only a guess. Even your best guess might not be right. So, when you or your group is trying to frame an issue, it is important to name and hold on to multiple interpretations rather than gravitate toward the first one you hit that people like.

Questions to Ask Yourself to Explore Tough Interpretations

  • Thinking about the adaptive elements (values and behaviors) of the situation, what’s going wrong?
  • What needs to change?
  • Who are the stakeholders? Who else? Anyone else?
  • What work is being avoided? In what way?
  • What scares you?
  • What if nothing changes?
  • What does this situation look like from the point of view of someone else in the group?
  • What aspirations do others have?
  • If you continue business as usual, can you make any progress?