Problems and Values

Allan Holmgren

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

Abstract

This article highlights coaching from a narrative and poststructuralist perspective. The article argues that problems are the starting point for any concept and every story – that each term starts with a problem. Issues and events must be named and inserted into a story to make meaning before they can be handled. The article argues that in coaching and leadership conversation about hopes, dreams and visions out of the blue sky without a foundation in the living experiences of life and in the problems and their effects one wishes to fight or to handle is meaningless and “hot air”.
Problems are something that the protagonist in a narrative meets on his way and bumps with. Problems arise when something unexpected or unforeseen happens. When a problem arises, a breach will occur. This is fundamental in narrative theory. But whenever there is a problem there is also a value, something preferred. In narrative coaching, the protagonist comes closer to his values and skills through stories of preferred experiences.
The person’s joy and empowerment are strengthened by sealing the contact with preferred experiences, values and skills. This minimizes the power of the problem over the person.
It is the coach’s task in cooperation with the coached to let the preferred experiences and values guide the coaching. It does not make sense to talk about “solutions” in narrative coaching before “thicker” stories about the preferred life are told. The concept and the metaphor of solution itself is problematic as it relates to mathematics and correct answers. Planning and “solutions” require a very high degree of conceptualization and sophisticated narrative. There are no solutions - only experiments when we are dealing with social relations. It makes sense to talk about solutions in the production, in the technical world, not in the never finished social world, where every action initiates a new beginning. The article contains some anonymous examples and vignettes that illustrate some of the theoretical and methodological points.
Original languageEnglish
JournalCoaching Psykologi - The Danish Journal of Coaching Psychology
Volume6
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)29-43
Number of pages15
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2017

Keywords

  • Problems
  • Conceptualization
  • Confirmation
  • Affirmation
  • Consciousness
  • Outsider witness
  • Poetry
  • Movement
  • Conflictual languages
  • Modern power
  • Intensity
  • Narrative

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