Storytelling and listening: co-creating understandings

Peter Bednar, Christine Welch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


As sentient and social beings, we live in hope that we can be understood when we try to communicate with each other but we also know that we might be wrong. We strive for better understandings, engaging in an on-going dance of collective sense-making. This paper considers how communication among individuals involves co-creation of meaning by exploring narratives— those expressed by a speaker and those created internally by listeners in efforts to achieve understanding. We note that the extent of these efforts varies from reliance on prejudice at one extreme to deep listening at the other, and that organizational barriers may exist which inhibit cocreation of meaning. We suggest that an open systems approach, which enables individuals to explore and share their contextually dependent understandings, will be helpful. We propose a framework that supports and guides participants in endeavors to co-create understandings of problem spaces through storytelling and listening.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)13-21
Number of pages9
JournalCybernetics & Human Knowing
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - 2013


  • sense-making
  • knowledge creation
  • open systems


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