How to highlight the good to strengthen the strengths

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  • The process of appreciative inquiry invites you to practice the FOAR method, which consists of examining strengths, opportunities, aspirations, and results.
How to highlight the good to strengthen the strengths
How to highlight the good to strengthen the strengths

In the wide world of human behavior, we know that there is a tendency to see the negative rather than the positive in situations. Our brain processes around 60,000 thoughts every day. Many of them are negative, absurd, or repetitive. More than 90% are repeated and around 80 to 90% are negative, with the consequences that this represents in the reality of that person: negativity, judgments, disappointment, frustration, fear, stagnation, unhappiness.

The psychologist Martin Seligman, promoter of so-called positive psychology, explains in his book “True happiness“Out of a hundred articles that talk about sadness, only one is published about happiness. A similar proportion to the news shown by most of the media.

There is a valuable tool for individuals and also for companies and teams, called appreciative requestThis allows you to focus on the contributory aspects of the matters to be managed, rather than just focusing on those that remain in the search for solutions.

To put it clearly: it is not a question of denying reality and what is being lived, but rather of giving up on them and emphasizing the aspects that contribute to the solution.


In the business world, the SWOT matrix (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats; also known as SWOT) is often used to analyze different aspects to be solved.

Using a similar model here aimed at improving decision making and human behavior, the process of appreciative inquiry invites us to practice the method FOAR, composed of the review of the Strengths, opportunities, aspirations, and results.


The appreciative research draws on the contributions of Professor David Cooperrider of Case Western University in the USA and defines them as “4Ds” of appreciation: Discover, Dream (dream in English), design and plan (Deliver in English). And we can’t change it because the opportunity is as it is and when it appears; although you have the power to accept or reject it.

Let’s review every aspect of the FOAR matrix:

1. Strengths

It is the starting point for discovering the tools you have. Everything that is already good and contributes to the success of the goal is described in detail. even when it is used to solve challenges.

To focus, it is important to use triggers, e.g. B. what skills you have, how much you know about yourself or the topic to be treated, which values ​​influence your strengths. and also which contributing convictions – which we know as positive – in addition to the question: “How do I know that I have or have a lot of talent?

2 options

This FOAR quadrant looks at openness and changes in internal models in order to expand beyond the known. exist internal possibilitiesFor example, the permission to experience the new, the disposition, encouragement and enthusiasm to face your process of personal and professional improvement. and also externalHere you will learn to recognize everything that the environment offers as opportunities for improvement – for example, taking a course, accessing a contact to solve a situation, a book that triggered a lateral thought that you had not considered.

In this realm of possibility, imagination, creativity and innovation become strategic allies to expand your powers of perception and solve the various problems that previously affected you and today you are sitting on them from new perspectives.

3. Aspirations

Anything you can’t see yet doesn’t mean it can’t happen in the future. That is why the FOAR model is based on the world of options.

The possibility arises from inner openness and disposition that good things will happen. Anything that you aspire to, that you dream of, that you want to discover and that you want to achieve can find a path to realization through the possibilities you envision, no matter how far they may seem in the moment.

To determine your goals and those of a team, you need to review the strengths and opportunities, and determine the goals that you want to achieve. The triggering questions: What is really important and what inspires me? Where am I going or do we want to go? How do I imagine the future concretely? (Create a mental picture as in HD.) What will be the concrete results of these efforts? What emotions will there be?

There is an interesting exercise that I would like to suggest: take a positive portrait of yourself, and you can also suggest it to your team: Take a picture of your face – and each member can take a picture team– and starts to write with a firm hand in different places on the photo. For example, properties related to seeing where you want to go around the eyes; those of communication in the area of ​​the mouth; that of creativity on the forehead; Empathy and listening skills, in the ears, etc. You will associate spaces in your photo with qualities that aid in the appreciative examination. You will be surprised by the result. If you need to develop any of these further, look at the photo for a few moments a day for a few weeks and let your subconscious do the rest.

4. Results

This is the ultimate consequence of the measures you have taken to achieve the goal. It is the concrete effect of a temporally activated event.

In this quadrant of FOAR you define the tangible and measurable indicators of what you want to receive. Some practical examples are selling a certain number of units of a product, opening a new business in a certain strategic location, successfully completing a challenge that the person or company can empower, or entering into a negotiation and specifically.

In order to achieve the results, it is necessary to draw up the action plan, set goals using specific methods, develop the strategy, determine who is responsible and when this point will be reached and measure the partial progress.

Everyone knows that results cannot be achieved without targeted action, available energy and clarity to activate everything that is required. Because just dreaming or imagining it and just having it in a plane of striving without action will not be enough to make it come true.


Discipline, clarity and permanent focus, adjusting deviations and correcting in a positive sense will be other indispensable tools to achieve this.

If you take into account the structure of the FOAR model, you can improve the aspects that will help you move forward and create opportunities that the traditional SWOT model may not have taken into account.

The invitation is to observe the positive and contributing aspects in all situations always and continuously. What if you do this? You will positively modify your mental model and move towards a model that focuses directly on what brings you closer to the results that you want to achieve in an overwhelming way, compared to the old pattern of focusing on that what you lack or the obstacles.

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