Forget about active listening!

What are the key elements of a brilliant thinking session and what makes it important to give thinkers the space and support they need to generate their best ideas?

You’ve heard all there is to know about “active” listening.

Some conversations feel brilliant. They produce a lot of ideas, some insights, and yet a few hours or days, later, you notice the enthusiasm wanes, promises of action seem forgotten and nothing moves.
Somehow, something is missing.

Was that listening really active?

So, what is the key to a successful Thinking session?

A thinking session is about a thinker and a thinking partner and what happens between them during their time together.

Let’s turn the spotlight to the thinker and not on you, the “listener”, and see what happens to them instead:

🔦 A thinker will think in various waves and pauses ranging from 60 seconds to 60 minutes, so let them come… Don’t assume someone is done with their thinking until they give you a signal they have.

💡 The thinker’s brain feels most engaged and productive when it is not interrupted. Switch off the comments. Don’t even bring your “aherm, yes! Indeed, Oh yeah, or wows”. These are interruptions. Stay yourself but neutral.

🦄 As a thinker (and even a thinking partner…), don’t necessarily be too hung up on an outcome. (No, the coaching police is not watching). Everything is a process. Unless you die during the session (sorry to be abrupt) there will be no particular hard outcome. And even here, some people will argue that death is not even an outcome, but a process too, but I digress.

Seriously, what is important here is that a thinker is offered the opportunity to think for themselves as far and as long as the session allows. And when you’re gone, the thinker will continue to think on their own and have brilliant insight!

🐣 A thinker thinks best in the presence of someone who has no other agenda than to ignite their thinking. If the thinking partner is just waiting to reply, instruct, advise or steal the moment… then the magic disappears. You won’t get much thinking done there.

🌻 Feelings, metaphors, silence, body movements, different breathing paces, and stillness, are all expressions. And they are as valid as words. A thinker just needs encouragement to release these various forms of expression to notice them. This helps with producing quality thinking. To achieve this, the thinking partner just wraps up the thinker with their undivided attention and more space. That’s enough.

🧠 The brain generates more thinking in the presence of a curious (but not nosey) question. Ask your thinker again and again: “What more do you think, feel or want to say?”

So tell me, where and how do you generate your best thinking?
How do your managers or peers help you think for yourself and as yourself? 🙂

Curious to hear your thoughts…!

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