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Thinking Environment


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© 2003 A H A Frost


When was the last time you gave yourself the opportunity to sit in peace and spend some quality time thinking for yourself? When did you last spend some dedicated time thinking about something that was troubling you, or about your future? Or when did you simply take time out to enjoy a pleasing and relaxing memory?

With the pace and pressure of life and work these days, we rarely give ourselves the chance to think through the issues that we face, let alone time to hear and consider how or what our partners, friends or colleagues really think. How many times have you heard someone say 'I'm so busy I don't have time to think!' or have been told 'Your trouble is you don't think'?

If we do take a rushed few minutes to think, our thinking is so affected by outside influences and our assumptions that our thoughts are not truly our own. We wonder:

What would my partner / friends / mother / father / colleagues / the dog think?

We also drag past influences and conditioning into current reality. We allow such things as our upbringing, education, training, and background (to name but a few) to influence the way we think. In doing so, we do not understand what WE really think – because we do not truly think for ourselves.

Quality thinking for a quality life

It is not what happens to us that shapes our lives but the way we THINK about what happens to us. The fact is:


Or to put it another way:


Think of a cut lemon: how it smells and feels; its colour and the way the lemon juice sprays out when you squeeze it. By now you most probably have salivated in readiness, even though the lemon is only in your mind.

If taking a few seconds to think about a lemon can have such an effect on you, imagine what improving the quality of your thinking can do for your life. Imagine, also, the beneficial results when everyone around you, relations, friends and colleagues have time to think for themselves.

It is the freedom and ability to think for yourself that defines the quality of your decisions and the quality of your life.

Own Your Own Thoughts

Thinking for oneself is rather unusual because, without realising it, we spend a great deal of our time thinking what we believe we ought to think or, even worse, what we think other people believe we should think! It is not surprising, therefore, that often when people achieve goals, they feel a sense of anticlimax or disappointment because their goals are derived from not thinking for themselves. In other words, their goals were not theirs to start with!

We each have within us all the answers we need and they are our answers, but frequently we do not know how to find them.

A powerful but little known fact is that the quality of the attention you are given has a material effect on the quality of your thinking. If you have any doubts about how true this is, just think about the last time you were having a conversation with someone at a party and they kept looking over your shoulder for someone else. What did that do for your conversation?

Imagine being able to create an environment of such trust that you can think freely and deeply for yourself. Where you can explore your own thoughts about an issue that is affecting the way you are feeling and behaving. Or where you can truly understand the way you are thinking about the things that are happening to you.

Imagine that you can then go on to look at the basic assumptions you are making that are standing in the way of your seeing a resolution. Then, having recognised and removed these assumptions, being able to work out what YOU want to do.

The Thinking Environment™

Such an environment can be produced and is described by Nancy Kline in her book Time To Think. Nancy has spent many years investigating what enables people to think for themselves and improves the quality of their thinking. She has encapsulated her conclusions in the term The Thinking Environment™

Nancy says: 'A Thinking Environment is natural but rare. It has been squeezed out of our lives and organisations by inferior ways of treating each other. Organisations, families and relationships can become Thinking Environments again where good ideas abound, actions follows and people flourish'

So how can a Thinking Environment be brought about?

In simple but very powerful terms, there are behaviours that Nancy has identified that significantly improve the quality of a person's thinking:

  • giving and receiving undivided attention and not interrupting
  • being aware that we all have an equal ability to think with quality
  • having the right place to think in
  • being free from hurry, pressure and competition
  • allowing sufficient emotional release to maintain the quality of thinking
  • giving and receiving genuine appreciation.
  • having the necessary information about the issue
  • understanding and respecting that everyone is different
  • asking questions that lubricate the thinking

These all promote an environment in which people and groups raise their awareness and then take responsibility for their own thoughts.

The Thinking Environment is based on the highest quality of attention and of appreciation and respect for people. This encourages people to explore and recognise their own thoughts, feelings and assumptions, and then create their own solutions and future actions. It enables people to think through and identify what it is they want in a given situation, or to resolve how to approach a difficult issue. In the all-too-frequent redundancy situation, for example, the Thinking Environment provides an opportunity for positive reassessment of life and career and gives the person the freedom to work out what they truly want in the future and how to go about getting it.

Quality thinking is essential for people, either individually or in groups, to clearly identify what they really think and from this to formulate actions that are completely and genuinely in line with their objectives. It helps to bring about an alignment between an organisation's goals and those of the individual.

People get amazing results by using the Thinking Environment in all situations, from ideas-generating meetings to one-to-one difficult confrontations, simply by improving the quality of thinking and listening that is going on.

To learn more about Thinking Environment workshops click here

For more details please call us on 07802 464 100
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