Step Three: Reflective Practice Following Trust Interview


Reflective practice


Individuals develop micro skills for success
To develop a team language of strengths
Team develops skills and rules of engagement needed for dialogical process
To increase team trust and connection


• Witnessing
• Listening
• Respecting (e.g., eye contact)
• Validation
• Mirroring
• Self-reflection
• Reflection-in-action
• Giving and receiving feedback
• Strength spotting

Background Information for Team Leaders

Why pay attention to Character Strengths? Character Strengths and Resilience?

There is a growing body of research that indicates that character strengths predict success in challenging contexts. For example, Duckworth, et al. (2007) found that “grit” or perseverance was a strong predictor of successful completion of basic training among West point cadets and US Army Special Forces completion (in Cornum et al., 2011). The character strengths of teamwork, courage, optimism, honesty, leadership, persistence and self-regulation are important mediators of success in situations characterized by significant physical, cognitive and emotional challenges (Matthews, 2008). Hope, kindness, social intelligence, self-regulation, and perspective buffer against the negative effects of stress and trauma (Park & Peterson, 2006, 2009). Posttraumatic growth in various dimensions corresponds with particular character strengths: improved relationships with others (kindness, love), openness to new possibilities (curiosity, creativity, love of learning), greater appreciation of life (appreciation of beauty, gratitude, zest), enhanced personal strength (bravery, honesty, perseverance), and spiritual development and religiousness (Tedeschi & Calhoun, 1995). Persistence, honesty, prudence, and love were inversely related to acts of aggression (Park & Peterson, 2008).

In her review of the US Army Comprehensive Soldier Fitness (CSF) Program, with a sample of over 1.1 million participants, Cornum, (2011) says “research has linked character strengths to positive adjustment among people who had experienced a significant psychological or physical illness (p.6).” While traditional organizational development measures have focused on repairing weakness, these approaches have little to offer with respect to how to improve the performance and well-being of large numbers of people. The resilience agenda outlined by USAID similarly suggests that they are “doing business differently” to help vulnerable communities emerge from cycles of crisis onto a pathway toward development by connecting humanitarian assistance and development programs more effective “across the common goal of building resilience (” There is a clear and voiced need for “resiliency programming that contributes to a sustainable reduction in vulnerability and more inclusive growth.” This cannot be realized in isolation. If these goals are to be reached within communities, NGO’s will need parallel effective and measurable interventions for resiliency within their own teams and organizations.

The need for a team intervention model
Cooperrider (2011) suggests that for true organizational and community transformation the relevant question is: “How do we take isolated strengths and help take them to a new octave?” In addition to empirically based assessment and analysis, interventions need to have measurable impact. Clifton and Harter (2003) suggest that changes in one’s sense of self helps interpret the situation and context around that person through a different lens and leads to changed behaviors and improved performance at work. Mayerson (2013) suggests that when people think that their organization is attending to optimizing their character strengths they are motivated and feel that they are up to the challenge. “Adequate resources have to do with not only having the right amount of person-power and associated physical resources, but also the degree to which people feel they and their co-workers are deployed to optimize their talents and motivation. In this light it becomes important to not only explore the prevalence of certain VIA character strengths but also the degree to which people feel that their top strengths and the top strengths of their colleagues are being maximized (2013, Mayerson, personal communication).”


Please form a large circle with the group. Check-in and recall the rules of engagement. The team will unite for a common task. You will aim to have a feeling of oneness. You can speak one language and appreciate each other’s strengths for the growth of your group and community.

Step 1.

The first pair of interview partners start the process. The first pair pulls their chairs outside of the circle and face each other. The rest of the group forms a semi-circle and gets ready to observe and listen with full attention. Each person tells the other one’s story about trust while the group just listens.

Step 2.

Reflective feedback - This part occurs after the trust storytelling is over and the first interview pair has shared their stories. Now, the group offers appreciative reflections using the Walking the Journey Together rules of engagement. The pair stays outside of a closed circle and are free to just listen to the team reflect on the stories. They do not respond. They are free to purely listen. Each team member takes a turn and offers brief reflections. Usually speaking for about 2 minutes each, but this is flexible.

After the reflections are complete, the pair express gratitude for the reflections and then rejoin the group and another pair takes their place. Repeat with the next pair (see Step 1.)

When everyone has had a turn, the group discusses the process all together.

Rules of Engagement for Dialogical Practice

For your group to be successful, the members must trust and come from their strengths:

1. Suspend assumptions and keep an open mind. A dialogue is a shared quest for meaning.
2. Lift every voice. Our intention is to lift everyone’s voice higher. Make sure every voice is heard.
3. Honor our differences. We can honor our differences without trying to reconcile them; Wonder, “Where is our common ground?” How do we walk the journey together?
4. We create meaning together (a “memorandum of understanding”). Without others meaning breaks down, value is lost, and the team loses its vitality.
5. Create a safe place. There must be a “safe container” created for the conversation, a place without hostility or fear.
6. Observe and listen to one another. Also listen to your own inner voice.
7. Be appreciative, attentive and respectful, allow space for the other without interrupting and offer positive rather than judging comments or questions…