One of the assumptions made in Appreciative Inquiry is that “reality is created in the moment, and there are multiple realities“.
The meaning of this assumption is sometimes a little obscure for folk when they first encounter it.
But there are many practical examples of this in daily life that help to illustrate what it means.
For example, have you ever tried to intervene in a quarrel between two children or teenagers? If so, you’ll know exactly what ‘multiple realities’ can look like. :) Those two kids have obviously been in the same place at the same time and experienced the same event when their quarrel started. But sometimes when you listen to their stories, you’d swear they’d been on different planets!
And in my experience as a family mediator some years ago, this phenomenon was equally apparent. When participants in a mediation session shared what had brought them to this point and their perceptions about what had happened, “multiple realities” were always at play.
Finally, here is a wonderful (and very thought-provoking) TED talk from Elizabeth Pisani called “Sex, Drugs and HIV – Let’s Get Rational“. With clear logic, sharp wit and warmth, she shows us how different groups in our community have very different perspectives on what actually contributes to or helps to prevent the spread of HIV.
Multiple realities indeed! :)