I have read with great interest the current debates on the importance of listening.
What has interested me for some time is the power of listening, real listening, just enjoying somebody’s thinking with no need to add or change or adapt the magic of their thoughts. I suppose I think that people deserve not to be interrupted from their own discoveries.
Steffan Harris in his presentation at TED.com illustrates that there is no wrong note in jazz, there is just an opportunity for a new piece of music. So, too, when somebody has space to think they are not necessarily thinking the wrong thing. Instead, they are thinking originally, creatively and independently in a way that is exactly right for them.
Listening is probably one of the most useful tools in my coaching box. I never cease to be amazed with the results. When I focus my intention on what they are going to say next without the need to comment they sense this and their confidence grows.
When I first met Nancy Kline and heard about the Thinking Environment model I was thrilled. At last, there was a process that named what I felt was right. The Thinking Environment invites a coach to keep in mind the vital components of good listening and the subtle signals that keep the thinker thinking afresh. She emphasized that our attention, when focused on where the Thinker will go next with their thinking, is much more exciting and unpredictable than we could ever imagine. In other words, we need to listen in a way that will ignite the human mind.
So the next time you are tempted to give your opinion as somebody is unraveling a thought do not succumb to the pressure to say something intelligent, relevant, or even catalytic. That the moment of clarity belongs to the person to whom you are listening.
If you would like to know more about how to use this model in coaching have a look at the Thinking Partnerships course. For on thing, you will know that it is a course where you will be truly heard.