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Understanding What happens When We Really Listen


How Quality of Attention Impacts Our Ability to Think

· Insights,Being Seen and Heard,Attention,Something to Try

The more time I spend with people in my Time and Attention sessions, the more curious I become about what it is that happens during a session. I wonder what is it that makes the space so special that it allows the participant to become relaxed and express themselves so authentically.

Nancy Kline's book "Time to Think" was really impactful when I was doing my coaching training a few years ago. On reading it I suddenly understood what had been happening in my life, particularly in a work environment. Nancy made it clear the importance of giving people time to think, and how often that doesn't happen, and as a result, some potentially great ideas never see the light of day. Today, listening to "More Time to Think" I heard something as if for the first time (although it's probably the third).

"Most people listen to what they are hearing just long enough to think of something to say in response, they listen to comment, to advise, to diagnose, to determine a clever intervention, to direct." Nancy Kline - More Time to Think

What really struck me was realising that the speaker will aware of what's happening and the need of the listener to speak, so their own ability to think reduces. I know this feeling. I can sense when I am being heard with full attention, or when the listener is already focused on what they will say next. And, I know that when I feel really heard, I am able to express myself more clearly and explore my ideas more fully. If I know I am not going to be interrupted my mind becomes free.

"If you could decide that today from this point forward you would never again interrupt people your impact on them and the quality of your relationships would deepen immediately. Most of all get interested, not only in what the person is saying but also hugely in what they will say next. When you are interested in, curious about, riveted by what they will say next you do not want to interrupt them. " Nancy Kline - More Time to Think

Being interrupted is such an off switch for me, and my attention. I can either battle it out to see who can be heard, which is usually pointless, or a part of me disengages and no longer wants to participate.

Perhaps today you could notice your own experience of attention. Both giving and receiving. When someone is speaking to you what is happening for you, are you thinking about what you'll say next, or are you waiting to hear what they say next? Do you interrupt? And, when you are speaking how do you respond when you don't feel you are being heard? I'd really love to know, please do comment below.

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