The gift of independent thinking

The Thinking Environment pioneered by Nancy Kline is really about giving people the gift of independent thinking.
Independent thinking is the capacity to draw on your own experiences, feelings and creativity to think for yourself, rather than be guided by another and to be able to say out loud what you think, not what you think others want to hear.
Sounds awesome doesn’t it?
When you first see the 10 Components of the Thinking Environment it’s a bit overwhelming. I mean how can you even remember all 10 let alone bring them into your conversations?
The good news is that they all connect in some way so by focusing on one you’re often bringing in a lot more.
Like if you want to create a place that says ‘you matter’ then give someone all of your attention, don’t interrupt, allow them to express their feelings freely, do what you need to to be free of distraction and at ease, share the air time equally and offer 5 times more appreciation than criticism. That’s six already!
My biggest insight has been about attention. In the Time to Think Foundation course I was paired up and my partner and I had 3 minutes each to talk about anything we wanted. The listeners only role was to put all of their attention on the thinker and not interrupt. At one point my partner looked away to write some notes and I felt like I was being interrupted. My thinking sputtered for a moment.
I notice in workshops that while I warmly greet people as they enter the room I’m looking down to mark them present on the register and so there is no congruence. My words and tone say one thing and my body language says another. It possibly says, you don’t matter and when people feel that, they can’t think well.
So this year I’m going to work on attention. It’s going to be a tough one for me, I don’t do well in long online meetings or webinars, my mind wanders and it’s too easy to be seduced by the number of unread emails ticking up. And then there is the challenge of attention with friends and family, to hold my gaze on their eyes and not interrupt when I’ve got something burning to say.
The thing being of course that this is not as much of a challenge when I’m coaching, so really this year for me is about being a coach in everything I do and for me that is going to start with giving attention.
What are your thoughts on the thinking environment and it’s 10 components? I love them and I’m open for alternative points of view to challenge my independent thinking.
PS: this letter was written on 17/12/20 – I’m taking a proper two week break for Christmas so will respond on 4th January 2021!
My thinking for this letter has been influenced by Nancy Kline’s books Time to Think and More Time to Think. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. There is no additional cost to you and I only use affiliate links of products that I use myself.
Click below to find out more about each component.

The Ten Components of The Thinking Environment

Attention
Listening with palpable respect and genuine interest, and without interruption

Equality
Treating each other as thinking peers; giving equal turns and attention; keeping boundaries and agreements

Ease
Offering freedom from internal rush or urgency

Encouragement
Giving courage to go to the cutting edge of ideas by moving beyond internal competition

Incisive Questions™
Removing untrue assumptions that limit our ability to think for ourselves well

Feelings
Allowing sufficient emotional release to restore thinking

Appreciation
Offering genuine acknowledgement of a person’s qualities; practicing a ratio of 5:1 appreciation to challenge

Information
Supplying the facts; recognising social context; dismantling denial

Difference
Welcoming diverse group identities and diversity of thinking

Place
Creating a physical environment that says back to people, ‘You matter’

The Ten Components of The Thinking Environment are the copyright of Nancy Kline of Time to Think
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