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The Quality of Attention

Why it matters

· Being Seen and Heard,Attention,Something to Try

When I was doing my coaching training in 2014 one of the recommended books was Time to Think - Listening to Ignite the Human Mind by Nancy Kline. It had a huge impact, and stays with me as one of the most influential books I have read. Ever.

Yet, flicking through it now I realise there is so much more in there than I recall. And most likely when I re-read it there will be new insights and understanding that I absorb from the place in which I now stand in my life.

What impacted so greatly when I first read it was the idea that everyone is capable of great thinking but for most of us the environment we are in, and have been socialised in, prevents us from having the opportunity to do our best thinking.

In my work now I notice how when given the right quality of attention people are able to access their own thinking in a way that may be unfamiliar to them. Silence isn't something awkward to be filled. It is a space for thinking. Not a pressured, I must find the right answer type thinking. But spacious, unhurried place. If I step in to fill the space with a question, or a comment, I can destroy the opportunity for inner wisdom to emerge, and the person to discover they have the answer within them.

"The best conditions for thinking, if you really stop and notice, are not tense. They are gentle. They are quiet. They are unrushed". Nancy Kline, Time to Think

All too often we look outside of ourselves for the answers. But given the right conditions, which Nancy calls The Thinking Environment, everyone has the potential to discover ideas they had not previously accessed, and when allowed space to be developed this can benefit us all.

"The quality of your attention determines the quality of other peoples thinking". Nancy Kline, Time to Think

We can find it really challenging not to fill a gap, or even interrupt, when someone else is speaking. Usually this is with the best of intentions. It's what we do. We want to help and give our opinion, or advice. And silence can feel awkward and uncomfortable. So best quickly fill it.

Maybe today you will notice the quality of attention you are giving those you come into contact with, and the quality of attention you receive. Be curious about what happens if you really stop and notice, and allow others time to think, and uncover their own solutions and ideas. It will take time. I'd love to hear what you discover.

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