Learning about Time To Think in a world that is constantly talking
We apply deep listening sessions in our seminars. There are various forms: from mindful listening to mindful and reflective conversations, to wisdom circles. It is always a powerful experience for attendees to recognize that they receive full and uninterrupted attention, and that they are fully welcomed and heard by someone else – sometimes even a stranger.
I love the words from Henri Nouwen about the Art of Hospitality cultivated through listening to others. I recently ran the opening session for a day-long meeting with over 40 participants who did not know each other – and we asked them to get to know each other with the method of mindful listening. There were leaders, volunteers, all kinds of people in the virtual room and it was a powerful experience. As the topic of the whole meeting was the question of modern e-participation, it fitted well into the agenda.
I was later reminded that it was not only Henri Nouwen who was curious about the art of listening; Nancy Kline dedicated almost her whole life to fostering Thinking Environments that allow people to think freely for themselves. At the core of Thinking Environments is the belief that the human mind can think best in the presence of a question. We think freely and more boldly when we know that we will not be interrupted. And she integrates the power of an incisive question, removing our own barriers (aka limiting assumptions) that hinder us from finding new solutions. In such an environment, the thinker can find their own solutions. This is a paradigm shift for traditional coaching approaches. The host of a Thinking Session provides a safe space for others to think.
“To take time to think, is to gain time to live“, Nancy Kline tells us in her books. I recommend all her works – either as books or audiobooks (which Nancy herself narrates). In fact, Thinking Environments have been life-changing for me as well, especially in the past two years.
I found it very helpful and meaningful to be part of Thinking Environments – whether as a host, facilitator or participant.
- When we applied it to our agencies, our brainstorming culture shifted.
- When we offered Thinking Sessions to management groups, new solutions for meaningful issues were found to questions such as, ‘how can we improve our meeting culture?’, and ‘how can we truly listen to our people?’.
- When we facilitated larger groups, new connections were made – and sustained.
So you see, I have become a fan and I am currently collecting more and more badges (certificates) for the facilitation of Thinking Environments. It‘s kind of addictive – meaning that once you experience this culture it’s tempting not to veer from it again.
Each quarter I offer some group facilitations pro-bono, so get in touch with me if you are interested.
Finally, here are Henri Nouwen‘s words – and below there is a link to the German translation:
To listen is very hard, because it asks of us so much interior stability that we no longer need to prove ourselves by speeches, arguments, statements, or declarations. True listeners no longer have an inner need to make their presence known. They are free to receive, to welcome, to accept.
Listening is much more than allowing another to talk while waiting for a chance to respond. Listening is paying full attention to others and welcoming them into our very beings. The beauty of listening is that, those who are listened to start feeling accepted, start taking their words more seriously and discovering their own true selves. Listening is a form of spiritual hospitality by which you invite strangers to become friends, to get to know their inner selves more fully, and even to dare to be silent with you.