Question for stories from negative emotions
Move #1: Reverse the Frame
Values can get crowded out by internalized expectations. If you notice a negative self-image, ask them what the positive reversal of that would be.
Can you identify a negative self-image in the story above? Ask about a positive one!
Example: I just felt so weak in that moment...
What is your strong self like? How does that self (approach things/treat people/act/keep things/live life)?
Example: I'm completely incompetent...
What would it look like for you to be capable? How would you be able to (approach things/treat people/act/keep things/live life)?
Move #2: System Fix
Values can also get crowded out by external factors. In that case, find a question by getting rid of the problem.
Can you identify a pressing need, goal/fear, and/or expectation? Ask a question that removes it!
Example: I was scared to say anything because I might lose my job.
How would you have been able to (approach things/treat people/act/keep things/live life) if you knew that you couldn't lose your job?
Example: The deadline was coming up, and I was just getting more and more frustrated...
How would you have been able to (approach things/treat people/act/keep things/live life) if you knew that you had all the time you needed?
Move #3: Bad Times/Better Times
Sometimes people have trouble seeing that their values aren't tied to the specifics of one story. In that case, find a question that invites them to think about similar Bad Times or Better Times.
Are they stuck chewing over the same details? Ask for more stories!
Example (Bad Times): I just got so frustrated by the whole thing.
Are there other times that you have been frustrated like that? What way of (approaching things/treating people/acting/ keeping things/living life) seems blocked in those moments?
Example (Better Times): I felt like it didn't even matter if I was there.
Can you think of a time when it seemed like it mattered that you were there? What was different? How were you able to (approach things/act/treat people/keep things)?
Move #4: Advice
Sometimes people haven't reflected on their story before (or maybe they aren't very self-reflected in general). In that case, ask them for some Advice they would give themselves.
Are they struggling to talk about values? Find a way to give advice to their former-self!
Example: It was all just so hopeless...
What advice would you give to yourself in that situation if you could go back? What way of (approaching things/treating people/acting/ keeping things/living life) would be important to remember?
Move #5: Admiration/Appreciation
Sometimes people's more easily recognize values they Admire or Appreciate in others.
Ask them how people they admire would act! [CAREFUL: you might get an image they are pressuring themselves with here. If so, bring it back to a value or use another move.]
Example: ...and then I just felt horrible about the whole thing...
Can you think of a person who would have handled that situation really well? How would they have (approached things/acted/treated people/kept things)? [CAREFUL: you might get an image they are pressuring themselves with here. If so, bring it back to a value or use another move.]
Move #6: Love, Love, Love
Ask what wasn't being loved/is worth loving in this situation?
Example: ...and then I just felt horrible about the whole thing...
What would it look like if love would have been guiding your choices? How would you have been (approaching things/ treating people / acting / keeping things)? Alternately: What's worth loving in this situation?
Move #7: Interviewer's Values
For me __(broad value)__ is like this ... how is it for you?
When someone doesn't know what values are, they tend to drift around to various things that happen to stand out (just as they do in values-blind designs). Bring them back to the point.
Are they having trouble seeing throught the fog? Reference your own values!
You want to make sure that you don't only see your own personal value in another person's story. But saying what that value means for you can give them something to push against.
Example (Self-Reference): I guess it's a kind of authenticity.
When I'm being authentic, it's about sharing my feelings in a way that immediately resonates in my body. Is it like that for you too, or do you notice other things when you're authentic?
Move #8: Trauma Move
When emotions seem "outsized" or "too big" for the events they are connected to, they indicate an earlier trauma. Point this out to your interviewee, and make sure they are open to exploring that right now. If so, use the "Trauma Move", then the flip, fix, advice, and love moves as needed.
Ask them to think of the earliest time they felt this way. Then ask them to tell that story as if it were about someone else. Listen carefully and hold space for insights (let them interpret it). Help them discover how that person is having trouble living/being/showing up.
Make sure you tune in to the other person. If it feels like they want to stop, make sure they know that is totally fine. I've seen this be a very healing moment, but unless you are a professional psychologist, don't offer advice. Just be there to hold space for them to feel their own feelings.
Interview Example: Yoga Class
👩🏼🦲 Maxi. I was in yoga class, and my ex-boyfriend walked in. He went to the other side of the studio, and didn't even acknowledge that I was there. For the whole class, I was trying to do my practice. But I'm heartbroken, and have just been an insecure mess since the breakup. I've been thinking about him a lot, and I kept glancing over at him hoping for some attention. Even just a quick smile or something... Usually I feel great after yoga, but I ended up going home feeling deeply frustrated.
Three broadly defined values that I imagine are possibly blocked in this situation are connection (with the ex-boyfriend), safety (from being emotionally overwhelmed), and/or focus (on the yoga practice). The frustration would lead my intuition heavily toward safety or focus. If we focused on the heartbroken feeling, we would probably get to a connection value that they had to give up on.
So I could try to begin surfacing values with the following questions:
Note: Some of these questions are intentionally vague, so the person can tell me what is important (i.e. connection, safety, focus, or something else entirely).
Bad Times/Better Times: Do you remember other times you felt frustrated like that? Tell me about those! // Do you remember a time that worked better for you? Tell me about that!
Advice: If you could consider things now with a calm mind, how would you go back and tell yourself to approach that situation? // What do you wish you would have kept in mind?
Admiration/Appreciation: Do you know someone who would have handled that situation well? What would they have focused on? How would they have approached it?
Love, Love, Love: What would this situation have looked like if everyone were being loving? How would you have acted? // How would you have been freed up to approach things?
Remember: We're looking for a value, so we want to steer whatever answer someone gives toward telling us how they want to be / show up / live life.