Episode 33: Presencing and the Art of Conversation

In this episode I am joined by Dr. Olen Gunnlaugson who is an Assistant Professor in Leadership and Organizational Development in the Department of Management at Laval University, Quebec, Canada. The conversation begins with Olen sharing his life story in terms of what inspired this work personally as well as professionally. We then go on to explore some of the leverage points for enhancing the quality of conversation in groups. For instance, what is the role of silence, stillness and how can one skillfully overcome habitual and less creative conditioned patterns of communication? We also explore the inherent challenges and opportunities of working with presencing and dialogue-based methods inside academic and business settings. Olen then goes further into his thinking concerning conversation as an improvisational art form and social practice. Towards the end of the interview, Olen speaks about the creative potential that emerges from this work and we close with reflections concerning our process. Please feel free to comment and share your thoughts after the interview.

We reference the work of Otto Scharmer several times and draw attention to the “four fields of conversation,” which has been apart of Olen’s research, MBA and graduate teaching and more recently, apart of his emerging work in conversational leadership, a form of collective leadership that brings about collective intelligence processes and outcomes in coaching, groups, teams and organizations as a whole.

(Image: Presencing Institute)

If you feel inspired or provoked by our conversation feel free to add your comments after the interview. You can also send in a written piece of work and get it published together with this episode. Further details can be found here.

Episode links:

Olen Gunnlaugson CV
Otto Scharmer
David Bohm
A complexity Perspective on Presencing, article by Olen Gunnlaugson (pdf)
Facebook Profile
7-day seminar on Evolving the We, Colorado Rockies, 13th-19th August 2012
5-day seminar on Transformative and Integrative Learning, Norway 24-29th of June 2012

James Alexander Arnfinsen (redaktør)
James Alexander Arnfinsen (33) er lærer og arbeider ved Åsvang Skole i Trondheim. Han har i tillegg en variert opplæring innenfor dialogbasert prosessledelse, nærværstrening og konflikthåndtering. I fritiden trener og instruerer han aikido. Han er oppvokst i Oslo, men har studert og arbeidet i Trondheim siden 2005. Ta kontakt med James på følgende adresse: james.arnfinsen @ gmail.com
James Alexander Arnfinsen (redaktør)
James Alexander Arnfinsen (33) is a teacher, his subjects being geography, religious studies and sports science. He is currently working as a teacher in primary school. In his free time he practices Aikido, a Japanese martial art that in it´s essence is about creating a healing relationship towards oneself and others. James lives in Trondheim, Norway.
  • James Arnfinsen

    Came over this great article in the New York Times – connection is not the same as conversation: 

    “In conversation we tend to one another. (The word itself is kinetic; it’s derived from words that mean to move, together.) We can attend to tone and nuance. In conversation, we are called upon to see things from another’s point of view.” w.nytimes.com/2012/04/22/opinion/sunday/the-flight-from-conversation.html?pagewanted=1&_r=1&pagewanted=all