A ‘thinking environment’ grows from taking time to listen, says Karen Wise

This book introduces Nancy Kline’s model of the “thinking environment”. The premise is that with certain conditions in place, the mind will be able to think more effectively and independently.

Kline names the habit of interrupting as “verbal tailgating”

Kline outlines the 10 components that create a thinking environment. The first and most important is attention, which is demonstrated by the listener allowing the speaker to talk uninterrupted. This enables the speaker to feel free to allow their mind to consider possibilities they would never have contemplated if they had been interrupted or felt limited by time.

Kline neatly names the habit of interrupting as “verbal tailgating”.

The next key component, which is explored in the second part of the book, is the incisive question. This is a technique to open up the speaker to reach more substantial conclusions or insight once their limiting beliefs have been identified. In the final part of the book, Kline describes how the thinking environment can be applied in a range of settings: health, education, politics, relationships and the family.

Time to Think proposes a fresh approach to listening and argues that a positive approach can enable individuals to overcome challenges. The tools and techniques Kline describes can be readily used in a coaching or training, and will also interest line managers. They can be easily applied in organisations, and Kline provides a simple model that can make meetings more effective.

This is a powerful book, with new insights into empowering individuals to achieve more by making conscious decisions in their own lives.

Karen Wise is an HR consultant and coaching psychologist.

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