Thinking starts with awareness

Ten Component of the Thinking Environment

Whenever I tell people what I do, I immediately see a change in how they behave. The reason is simple: they become aware of what they’re doing.

“So what do you do?” you ask.

I’m a Time to Think Facilitator. I help create Thinking EnvironmentsⓇ for companies and individuals. The kind of thinking we do almost always depends on how we get treated — the best kind of thinking needs a Thinking Environment.

Nancy Kline, author of ‘Time to Think’ and ‘More Time to Think’ discovered ten Components, the presence of which improves how people are treated. When even just one of these Components is present, people are capable of thinking so much better. Their anxiety subsides, giving them more cognitive capacity to generate good ideas.

When all ten Components are present, we create a Thinking Environment. Ideas flow more freely, and creativity really soars!

The first step in creating a Thinking Environment

People think best when they are given generative attention, aka when they show care. Caring is giving the kind of attention that stimulates creativity.

The single most important thing you can do to show you care (and thereby give generative attention) is to not interrupt. Instead, listen with the intention to understand and be genuinely curious about what the other person might come up with next.

Even when you think they’re done, keep listening. Don’t speak. Stay with the thinker. The silence you may feel is awkward stops being uncomfortable when you realise your partner may be thinking.

When I explain to people that interruptions are bad, I see the change in behaviour I mentioned before. They will immediately become aware of what they were doing only seconds earlier: interrupting.

“To be interrupted is bad; to get lucky and not be interrupted is better; to know you will not be interrupted will truly ignite the mind.” — Nancy Kline

How good a listener are you?

We tend to think of interrupting as cutting people off, finishing their sentences for them, or talking over them. But you can do none of those things and still play the role of an interrupter.

In many cases, we unintentionally interrupt by sharing an anecdote, by asking a question, or by going off on a tangent (yes, really). Although these actions can demonstrate care and active listening, in a situation that asks for deep thinking, they can derail a train of thought and prevent someone from fully developing their idea.

No one does this maliciously. From what I’ve seen, once someone knows that interrupting isn’t in the interest of the other person, but their own, they start to listen better.

Of course, this is only the first step. As Nancy Kline states: “To be interrupted is bad; to get lucky and not be interrupted is better; to know you will not be interrupted will truly ignite the mind.”

Not interrupting is not something that comes naturally, because we’re all fighting for attention these days. Truly listening is an acquired skill, but one well worth mastering.

Curious to learn what happens after the first step? Check out my site and drop me a line. I promise to listen to your questions — let’s see if we can take your thinking to the next level.