Thursday, August 8, 2013

Cocreating a Shared Reality: Exploring Intersubjectivity in Intercultural Interaction Through Executive Coaching Relationships

Alex Eunkyeong Yu, Fielding's School of Human & Organizational Development

Bringing attention to the intersection of two subjectivities, the inquiry of intersubjectivity explores how two individuals with their differences can cocreate a meaningful, shared reality in the moment of interaction. This study investigated the opportunity for intersubjectivity in intercultural applications with 6 seasoned executive coaches, by asking how they experience and create intersubjectivity when they work across cultures. The study integrated phenomenology and action inquiry as conceptual foundations, and designed multifaceted research consisting of interview, peer coaching in dyads, joint reflection after the coaching conversation, reflection journal including two-column notes, and follow-up interviews. In this way, the current study integrated a more comprehensive perspective on the second person practice of intersubjectivity.

Findings revealed that when the interactants were connected, their feelings and thoughts were in concert not only with each other but also with the topic of the conversation. The sense of alignment brought in reframing moments which expanded their shared reality. Self, other, and universe coexist in that space of intersubjectivity and culture moves off to the edges. Coaches create intersubjectivity by committing a total investment of intentional attention set on the coachee’s development. Intersubjectivity is a choice with the decisions of how much and on what our attention is going to be assigned and how to make meaning out of the experience. The major underpinnings of intersubjectivity include flexibility in the face of uncertainty, a balance of power with sense of cocreation, and deep interest and care for the other, all of which are needed for intercultural management in this culturally complex world with the layers of unexpected differences.

Key Words: intersubjectivity; interculturality; interactional competence in intercultural management; executive coaching relationship; coaching as improvisation.

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