Appreciative Encounters

One approach to interactive storytelling has the participants create their own stories and share them with each other. Here’s an engaging activity based on appreciative inquiry techniques that involves focusing on strengths, successful results, and positive encounters.

The sample activity described below deals with diversity and inclusion. The frame of this activity can be applied as a template to many other soft skill areas such as customer service, coaching, giving feedback, leadership, and critical thinking.


To identify factors that contribute to positive cross-cultural interactions. 


Minimum: 4

Maximum: Any number

Best: 15 to 30, divided into five teams.


30-50 minutes


Form teams. Divide participants into two or more approximately equal-sized teams, each with 2-5 members.

Create stories about positive interactions. Ask each participant to work independently to come up with a story related to a positive intercultural interaction. This story should feature a delightful encounter with one or more people from a different culture. It could be a real or fictional narrative. Encourage the participants to keep their stories short.

Share stories. Invite participants to walk around the room and pair up with someone from a different team. The two participants should share their stories with each other. Ask participants to listen carefully so they can recall details of the other person's story at a later time. Announce a 4-minute time limit for this activity.

Repeat exchanging stories. Whenever a pair of people has finished exchanging their stories, they thank each other and walk around, looking for other partners. They keep sharing their stories with each other.

Return to the team. After a suitable number of exchanges, ask all the participants to return to their teams. At this time, each participant would have his or her own original story along with one or more stories from the others.

Discover common themes. Ask members of each team to think back on all the stories they heard and identify the common themes among them. Ask them to make a list of factors that contribute to enjoyable interactions with people from other cultures. Also encourage the team members to brainstorm techniques for increasing the probabilities of such positive encounters.

Pair and share the conclusions. After a suitable pause, ask each participant to pair up with another participant from a different team. Ask the participants to take turns sharing their list of factors that contribute to positive encounters and techniques for increasing these factors.