36 questions to fall in love
(with your ally/partner/donor)
Being with our community, face-to-face and heart-to-heart, is the very work of many small civil society organisations. Now, we are not sure what is going on.
When will we be able to host our next workshop/programme? How is funding availability going to change? Will things go back to ‘normal’? What part of the old ‘normal’ do we want to let go of?
Many of us are wandering the web interested in sensing how others are feeling; anxious to understand how the quality of our work might be changing. We are also surfing the web of our own inner world, recognising it is time to take our own dreams seriously. No more hiding behind the busyness and overdoing. This moment of introspection will change the way we organise.
Most importantly, we won’t be able to reinvent ourselves alone. Our own becoming, as individuals, movements, and groups will be happening in conversation with what is happening to us at many different levels.
We might not understand it completely, but one thing is certain: we are invited to re-think the quality of our conversations. We cannot continue assuming our work is predictable, standardised, simply a technical matter, a logic framework, a deliverable. This moment in history is inviting us to realise our vulnerability. To see our humanity as relevant, as the protagonist in the way we engage with one another.
Below, I adapted a tool that the New York Times published in 2015. Maybe you are familiar with it, the “36 questions to fall in love”. Based on a psychological experiment, the questions are meant to help people ‘fall in love’. At Recrear we integrated them as part of our icebreaking dynamics.
I have re-written this list of 36 questions so that you can have an easy way to open up a deeper conversation with your allies and partners. The hope is that we can fall in love and see partnering as an act of intimacy, a discovery, a continuous and mutually enriching dialogue.
This is how you might use this tool: propose to your partner/organisational crush/ally to start your meeting by each choosing one question. Read it out loud and then take turns in answering them.
*adapted from http://36questionsinlove.com/
- 1. Given the choice of anyone in the world, which organisations or social movement would you like to partner with and why?
- 2. What aspect of your work would you like your colleagues to recognise more?
- 3. When you need to apply for an opportunity, do you have any rituals/practices to help you?
- 4. Describe a ‘normal’ work day for you right now.
- 5. When did you last celebrate with your colleagues? How did you celebrate?
- 6. If your organisation could have 3 times the budget you have now, what would you do with it?
- 7. How do you imagine the lifespan of your organisation/group/movement? What would need to happen for your organisation to dissolve?
- 8. Name three things that you and your partner both believe in.
- 9. What about your job do you appreciate the most?
- 10. How did you train for your position? If you could change anything about your training, what would it be?
- 11. Take four minutes and tell your partner the history of your organisation in as much detail as possible.
- 12. If you could expand to a whole new area of action for your organisation/group/movement, what would it be?
- 13. If you were granted 3 wishes in relationship to your organisation/group/movement, what would they be?
- 14. Is there something that your organisation/group/movement has dreamed of changing about your organisational culture? Why haven’t you changed it?
- 15. What is the greatest accomplishment of your organisation/group/movement?
- 16. What do you value most in a partnership?
- 17. What is your most treasured memory working for your organisation/group/movement?
- 18. Can you describe a really though day you have had recently at work?
- 19. If you knew that in one year your organisation were to dissolve, would you change anything about the way you are working? Why?
- 20. What does partnership mean to you?
- 21. What roles do love, affection, and friendship play in your work life?
- 22. Alternate sharing something you admire in the way your partner works. Share a total of five items.
- 23. How does governance work in your organisation/group/movement. If you have one, how is the relationship with your board of directors?
- 24. How do you feel about your relationship with your supervisor/closest colleague?
- 25. Make three true “we” statements about your institutions. For instance, “We are both working in the field of…”
- 26. Complete this sentence: “I wish we had a partner to support us with …”
- 27. If you were going to become close allies, what would be important for the other to know about how your organisation operates?
- 28. Tell the other something that might worry you about a potential alliance between your institutions/groups.
- 29. Share something about your organisation that you might be feeling embarrassed about.
- 30. Have you ever cried at work? When was the last time? What did you cry about?
- 31. Tell the other something that you appreciate in the way they communicate with you.
- 32. What, if anything, is a topic that at your organisation/group/movement is too serious to be joked about?
- 33. If you were to leave the organisation/group/movement suddenly today, what would be a project you would regret not finishing?
- 34. Describe your work space. What do you like most about it? Which object do you value the most? Why?
- 35. Of all your colleagues, whose departure from the organisation would you find most upsetting/saddening?
- 36. Share an organisational problem and ask your partner advice on how they might handle it. Also, ask your partner to reflect back to you how you seem to be feeling about the problem you have chosen.
Of course, this is just a starter, let’s keep creating more questions to fall in love!