[from book part 7 – APPRECIATE YOUR SELF]

How does you positive core speak?

A wise man once said, “Even if the majority say you are wrong, you still can be right.”

Parrèsia, in more correct English parrhesia, is a classical term for ‘speaking freely, speaking truly, speaking by the heart’. Another very wise man, the French philosopher Michel Foucault, included this ancient Greek concept in his research into discourse and truth making. He says:

“So you see, the parrhesiastes is someone who takes a risk. Of course, this risk is not always a risk of life. When, for example, you see a friend doing something wrong and you risk incurring his anger by telling him he is wrong, you are acting as a parrhesiastes. In such a case, you do not risk your life, but you may hurt him by your remarks, and your friendship may consequently suffer for it. If, in a political debate, an orator risks losing his popularity because his opinions are contrary to the majority’s opinion, or his opinions may usher in a political scandal, he uses parrhesia. Parrhesia, then, is linked to courage in the face of danger: it demands the courage to speak the truth in spite of some danger.”

You might wonder what harming another person can possibly have to do with appreciative inquiry. You know already that appreciative inquiry can enforce the other to live to his or her full potential, to do the things she or he thinks are right, that generate constructive action. To enable this, you might have been using provocative questions like “If you really want this, what would be the first step here and now?” or even “What is the risk you are willing to take?”

Parrhesia has to do with your own positive core. You could see parrhesia as a result of appreciative inquiry, applied to your self; possibly resulting in very coherent behaviour. That is; you being coherent with your positive core. And that sometimes is not appreciated much by others, by your boss, by other political parties.

In Dutch we use the word ‘oprecht’ for being truthful. (It refers more to standing than to sitting…) Looking for an english translation I found a lot: genuine – straight – serious – open – fair – sincere – true – frank – honest – upright (!) – plain – straightforward – heartfelt (!) … If we have that many words for practicing parrhesia, shouldn’t we practise it as often as possible?


Can you recall a situation when your positive core spoke up?


  • What was your message, what did you want to happen?
  • What was your (physical) behaviour during your ‘speech’?
  • Which of your gestures really illustrated, empowered your words?


What is it that you really need say to someone, and how and when will you do it?


You’ve just read one of the 100 chapters of my book Appreciative Inquiries of the 3.0 Kind.
Check www.appreciativeinquiries.eu for free download and ordering printed copies.