UNDERSTANDING MEANING IN THE COACHING RELATIONSHIP:PERSONAL CONSTRUCT PSYCHOLOGY TOOLS FOR UNDERSTANDING DIFFERENT MEANINGS ATTRIBUTED TO THE SAME WORDSWorkshop for SGCP led by Prof. Dusan StojnovBPS Office, London, 12 May 2011Interviewing and dialogue in the personal construct coaching process is based on understanding the precise meaning clients and coachees attribute to their verbal expressions. Although the common meaning of words (given in dictionaries and widely shared in community) is usually sufficient to enable everyday exchange between people, sometimes the subtle semantic nuances skip basic interpretative efforts. Failure to grasp precise meanings within a coaching dialogue may result in many sorts of misunderstanding – sometimes slight, but in other cases significant and regrettable.
The constructivist approach proposes that the precise meaning we seek in our attempts to understand coaching clients resides in their unique personal construct systems. Thus the effort to understand fully and obtain a direct insight into their personal meanings may be metaphorically expressed as ‘surfing through meaning’.
Personal construct psychology offers many ‘user friendly’ techniques for facilitating this process of understanding (Laddering, Pyramiding, Pyramid Update Procedure, ABC, Downward Arrow, etc.). But only through mastering the art of their integrated delivery – known as Conversational Mode – do they become a powerful semi-structured interviewing skill, enabling insight in the idiosyncratic meanings of coachees while maintaining the spontaneous process of uninterrupted dialogue.
Dr. Dusan Stojnov is Professor of psychology in the Psychology Department of Belgrade University; founder and President of the Serbian Constructivist Association; and co-founder of the European Constructivist Training Network.