Time to Think
From the Koemba Book Club:

Time to Think

This book has key insights and tools into what’s needed to help our children and ourselves to ‘think clearly’. In this book you’ll discover the ten key components on how to create a Listening Environment, whether you’re thinking about home, work or any other situation. The value of this in creating happier, healthier environments, both at home and even globally, cannot be overestimated.

 

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  • On Marie Reilly wrote:

    Chapter 16 Timed Talk- I love this idea. We have seen from our coaching experience to date that once someone gets talking, the sky is the limit in terms of where a person’s thinking can take them. None of us can predict the outcome. By offering a mutual listening space, with focused attention on each other, the parties using ‘timed talk’ are likely to come up with a solution that will benefit both. Where a solution is mutually beneficial, parties can take joint ownership of it. The quote I like is “remember there is an idea that neither of you has yet thought of that will resolve the problem better than you can imagine” (p124). I can see this working very well between spouses and also between a parent and child. Children are creative and imaginative and as parents, we need to (a) give them the time to express their ideas, (b) teach them how to listen to others’ ideas and (c) teach them how to give a little and compromise in order to achieve a ‘win-win’ for all sides. I can see how this ‘timed talk’ technique could be used for both conflictual discussions and situations where brainstorming is involved.
    Chapter 17 Presenting this way- this chapter ties in with the previous one and the listening without interruption method suggested by Kline is a corner stone of the thinking environment. As Kline says, ‘you can make an enormous difference just by setting up a Thinking Environment wherever you are’ (p127). Something to aim for!

  • On Marie Reilly wrote:

    Chapter 18 Supervision – the quote I like here is ‘be honest with your assessment, generous with your appreciation and focused with your criticism. People need a context of genuine praise in which to make changes’ (p129). The list of questions on pages 128/129 could also be used in a coaching context.

  • On Lupu Anca wrote:

    Chapter 16 – “Timed Talk”
    The same as Marie I liked this tool. I can see how it can work in conflictual situations which don’t seem to come to a constructive solution. I can also see it working in a family situation; between parents and between children (who are older). But I can also see how a parent can have the role as timekeeper (the parent can bring this idea on board and reassuring each child that he/she will have equal time to say his/her opinions without interruption). Knowing you will have a turn without being interrupted or “judged” will distract you from your anger towards preparing your speech. I know how everything seemed to be falling apart when I had a conflictual confrontation with a person who did not give me a chance to say my opinions/thoughts. All I was thinking was to find desperately a time to say what I wanted to say and when I finally found that moment it didn’t make sense as I was racing to say everything in one sentence knowing I wouldn’t get another chance….
    Chapter 17 – “Presenting this way”
    Very useful for tips. I can relate this way to giving feedback to a child. Always start on a positive note; giving positive feedback on what happened; then moving on to the things to be improved in the future and finishing on learning or thinking about doing things differently the next time around.
    Chapter 18 – “Supervising this way”
    I also liked the bit about ” focused with your criticism”, in other words be specific on your complain and put it in a context of “change in order to make progress”, to move on.
    The list of questions can be used in a coaching context and also in parenting context as well (I can see some questions that I could use with my almost 11 years old son).

  • On Marie Reilly wrote:

    Chapter 19 Change in a Thinking Environment- change affects everyone in nearly all areas of our lives, nothing is static. It’s how we embrace it and adapt to it that matters. Kline gives some useful tips here for managing change, which could easily be adapted to the family environment. She says the ‘only real tool to handle it is thinking’ and ‘in managing change you have to listen better than ever'(p130). All families encounter change at some stage whether its moving house, changing schools, marriage breaking down, babies arriving, grandparents dying etc. Kline’s advice of ‘listening, appreciating, asking, giving timely information, giving everyone a turn’ (p131) is very useful for families during times of transition.
    Chapter 20 Peer Mentoring- Kline recommends using even some of the Thinking Environment skills to enhance the mentoring relationship. ‘Just not to be interrupted, for example, until you have said everything, to be paid high-quality attention by your mentor, means that more of your mind is available and better ideas and greater energy can emerge'(p133). The word ‘parent’ could easily be slotted in to where ‘mentor’ is mentioned in the above quote.

  • On Marie Reilly wrote:

    Chapter 21 Leading this way- there is a lot in this chapter despite it being just over 2 pages long. I read it from the perspective of the parent and take the following points from it. It’s important for parents (as leaders) to admit when they have made a mistake. Kids need to learn its ok to make mistakes and one way to learn this is for them to see parents admitting when they themselves are wrong. I also like the phrase ‘stop competing with your colleagues. Encourage their excellence’ (p134). It’s a rule that could easily apply to neighbours, family members, peers etc. Sometimes we are up, sometimes we are down. Understanding this fact would help children empathise with others when they are down and congratulate them when they are up. This chapter also provides some very useful incisive questions on pages 134-135. One in particular stands out which parents could use particularly with older children: ‘if you we’re in my position, what would you do with this company that I am not doing?’ (P135). I would replace the word ‘company’ with ‘family’. Who knows what suggestion an older child might come up with? At the very least, asking their opinion will make them feel that they matter and that might be enough to diffuse whatever challenge is there at the time. Kline also provides incisive questions for leaders/ parents when coaching themselves. She encourages leaders to examine and remove limiting assumptions. I like question number 5 on page 135: ‘who among the people most junior to me can I invite to think with me today?’ As parents we need to give even small kids credit for their ideas and thinking. Just last week, I was amazed at how well my four year old daughter could articulate how she herself was feeling and how she thought her cousin might be feeling when they argued. Just giving her the listening space allowed her to think about the situation and come up with a plan.

  • On Val Mullally wrote:

    APOLOGIES FOR MY FALLING BEHIND WITH KLINE. THANKS , MARIE, FOR YOUR THOUGHTFUL COMMENT ALREADY POSTED RE: CH 21. COULD WE ACHIEVE THRU TO P. 140 THIS WEEK. IF WE SIMPLY CHANGE THE ‘TITLES’ OF THE DIFFERENT ROLES, AS YOU HAVE ALREDY DONE MARIE, IT’S EASY TO MAKE SENSE OF IT IN A FAMILY CONTEXT. WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS/ OBSERVATIONS & ANY FAVOURITE QUOTE.

  • On Marie Reilly wrote:

    Chapter 22 Executive Coaching- this book is written from the perspective of the organisation. From my working days, I totally concur with the idea that the higher up an organisation one goes, ‘the more detached they become from the heart of the people they serve’. (P137). Kline advises coaches to focus on two main processes, attention and incisive questions. She says that often people come looking for advice and you might have to ultimately give advice. However, the challenge is not to come in with your advice too soon. I can see how this could be effectively applied to family situations. As a mother I am very free with my advice. However, my kids, with my full attention, should be allowed to do ‘their own best thinking first’ (p137). She says you can still tell them what you think afterwards and ‘they will hear you better then anyway’ (p138) and you might not even have that much to tell them since they have done their own thinking. I think this method would work very well with older kids and teenagers. However, the time for me to lay the foundations for my kids is now. I like the following quote ‘a thinking environment gives the client space to find out what they already know, and to think of new ideas themselves, ideas that will work’.(p138).

  • On Lupu Anca wrote:

    Chapter 19- 23
    Some chapters can be applied in the family life while others are relevant only to organizations.
    For example in ch.19 – “Change in a thinking Environment”, there are some practical ideas that can be used within the family context when “change” needs to happen. The strategies presented here are tools that can be used by parents with their children (or teachers with their students):
    “1. Give correct information about upcoming changes as soon as you possibly can
    2. Give everyone a turn” (or in this case the child) “to say how they really feel about the changes (…)
    3. Ask them what ideas they have for adapting
    4. LISTEN, LISTEN, LISTEN
    5. Appreciate their good work” (pg 130).
    This is an approachable and uncomplicated process that can help children to settle down when change seems inevitable.

    Then in ch. 21 – ” Leading this way”, I found the “incisive questions” applicable to parents with older children.
    Questions like – “What do you really think?”, ” If you were in my position , what would you do (..) that I am not doing?”, ” What needs improvement..?”, What do we already know now that we are going to find out in a year?” – are very powerful and it gives children the opportunity to say their mind and ultimately to contribute to their increased self-esteem and self-worth.
    Knowing that your opinion matters makes you feel important and valued (this is something that we hear throughout this book).
    I also found the questions for leaders applicable for parents as well (same chapter 21).
    The questions like “What do I assume about myself most of the time that is limiting my leadership?” – leadership could be easily replaced by parenting.
    “If I were to be real self in my leadership, what would I do differently?” – again leadership can be replaced by parenting.
    These questions go straight to the heart of who we are and what it is important for us – as parents, carers, leaders, educators, etc…

    Ch. 22
    I found a fragment from this chapter inspirational… pg. 138: “Coaches need to realize that the brilliant person is the client. The coach’s job is to help the client discover that”. What a simple but wonderful way to describe coaching!!!

    Ch.23
    I liked the subtitle: “An organization is a ‘person’ too”. In reality what is an organization?? Or what or where would the organization be without the people behind it??
    What it comes into my mind now to explain the meaning of an organization, is a quote that many of us know and use it: ” It is all for one and one for all…. “

    • On Val Mullally wrote:

      THANKS FOR THE COMMENTS, ANCA.PLEASE DO KEEP READING SO WE CAN COMPLETE THE BOOK STUDY THIS MONTH.

  • On Marie Reilly wrote:

    Chapter 23 Reciprocity: the individual and the organisation- when I first read this chapter I thought I couldn’t apply it to the family setting. Then I reread it but this time, every time I saw the word ‘organisation’, I replaced it with the word ‘family’. This simple exercise transformed the entire chapter for me. Take the first sentence alone. Kline says ‘the organisation consists of individuals and is itself an individual’ (p139). The revised version reads ‘the family consists of individuals and is itself an individual’. While there are five members in our family (my husband, three kids and myself), we could now consider the family itself as a sixth member. Like all family members, the family needs time to think, space to grow, opportunities to make mistakes, learn and develop. Each family member gets on with their day to day stuff but how they act and interact with each other affects the family as a whole. Kline calls this ‘reciprocity’. She says that ‘each of us matters but what we create matters too’. (p140).

    • On Val Mullally wrote:

      I AM INSPIRED BY YOUR CLEAR ARTICULATION HERE, THANK YOU MARIE.

  • On Marie Reilly wrote:

    Chapter 24 The Thinking Session: introduction- Kline changes the emphasis from the public environment and shows how the Thinking Environment can be used just as effectively in a private setting. She introduces the Thinking Session which ‘is a formal, disciplined prototype of a Thinking Environment’ (p144). There are six parts to the Thinking Session. The first part consists of an open-ended time to think and sometimes is enough to allow action steps to become apparent. When I was first coached and allowed the time and space to just talk, I was amazed at (a) how quickly the time went and (b) how much ground I covered. Kline discusses how she came up with the six parts of the Thinking Session and provides further clarification in subsequent chapters.

  • On Marie Reilly wrote:

    Chapter 25 Kyle’s session- here Kline gives us an example of the Thinking Session in action. She shows how Eric, as coach, guides Kyle, through the six elements of the Thinking Environment. Obviously she doesn’t know exactly what Eric, the coach, is thinking but at different stages she assumes he wants to come in with his own answers/solutions. Instead he trusts the process. At one stage, ‘there was a long silence, long enough to make Eric wonder if he should be doing anything. But he stuck to the ‘rules’ and did not interrupt the quiet’ (pp150-151). When Kyle ‘came back’ it was obvious he had been on a thinking journey. I see this every time I coach. The silence allows the client /child to think. Jumping in with a solution or comment during that quiet time could be detrimental to the thinking process. The sample dialogue between Kyle and Eric also shows the benefit of repeating the question ‘is there anything more you think or feel or want to say’ (p152). A coach might feel silly asking the same question over and over, but as long as it produces new ideas, it is helpful to the client or child. Just last week when I was coaching my 6 year old son, I asked him what he thought he could do with his time instead of using technology. He came up with 8 options on the spot. He then amazed himself by coming up with further options each time I asked him ‘what else could you do?’ On page 155, Eric asked Kyle what was his ‘positive opposite’ of ‘have no control’. Eric assumed he knew what Kyle’s answer would be and was amazed that it was ‘subtly but powerfully different’ (p155). This shows the importance of allowing client/child to use their own words. It allows demonstrates how important it is to ‘park’ at the beginning of a session.

    • On Val Mullally wrote:

      CH 25 YES – WE”VE SEEN IN THE ROLE PLAY COACHING HOW IMPORTANT IT IS NOT TOO ASSUME THE CLIENT MEANS DIRECT OPPOSITE

  • On Marie Reilly wrote:

    Chapter 26 Thinking Session Part 1: what do you want to think about? – Kline looks specifically at part 1 of the Thinking Session. The subtitle of the chapter sums it up ‘in the presence of the question, the mind thinks again’ (p159). As a parent I often jump in too soon with what I assume to be what my children are thinking or what they need. Kline advises us not to jump in when they (or clients) pause, especially if they show signs of being wrapped up in their thoughts. Kline says, ‘stay still and fascinated……they are busy. They will shortly speak again’ (p160). The question ‘is there anything more ?’ (p160) can be all they need to come up with new thoughts. They might have been thinking that the coach/parent hasn’t time or interest to hear any more but ‘they need only the barest nudge to continue’ (p160). While the coach/parent might consider asking this question continuously as superfluous, the child/client sees it ‘as permission to keep thinking'(p161). Even when they say there is nothing more, an ‘are you sure?’ can help them come up with something helpful. Klein goes so far as to say this ‘last chance to say more can be the exact point of safety needed for the Thinker to form and expose not only another idea, but sometimes even the core idea they had not, until this moment, been willing to venture’ (p161). Kline also provides a list of helpful tips for the coach or ‘thinking partner’ (p161). Such tips include not interrupting, being at ease, being interested, maintaining eye contact. Sometimes part 1 is enough for the client/child to come up with their own solutions. Sometimes, the subsequent stages are required. These are discussed in the following chapters.

  • On Marie Reilly wrote:

    Chapter 27 Thinking Session Part 2: What do you want to achieve? – the part of this chapter that speaks most to me discusses why the coach shouldn’t ever ‘paraphrase’ (164). This advice can easily be applied to the coaching parent too. Coaches (and parents) should use the client/child’s own words. They came up with the words, the least we can do is respect their choice and not replace them with words of our own choosing. Kline calls this ‘infantilising’ (p165). Recently when I was coaching, my client talked about her kids screaming. When I reflected back I used the word ‘shouting’. She pointed this out to me. What I learned from this experience was the importance of using the client’s own wording. To do this, I have to ‘listen with precision and hear exactly the words of the thinker’ (p164). It is encouraging to read from KIine that it’s ok to get the client to repeat their goal. She says ‘listen better this time’ (p165). She also advises that if the client’s goal is too wordy or long-winded, it’s ok to ask them to shorten it and tells us not to ‘succumb to shorten it on the Thinker’s behalf’ (p165).

    • On Val Mullally wrote:

      CH 27 THE FINAL THOUGHT YOU EXPRESS HERE RE ASKING THE CLIENT TO RE-EXPRESS HIS/HER STORY IN A ‘SHORTENED’ VERSION, RATHER THAN THE COAHC DOING SO – IS AN INTERESTING AND POTENTIALLY POWERFUL PROSPECT.

  • On Marie Reilly wrote:

    Chapters 28 and 29 were discussed previously.

  • On Marie Reilly wrote:

    Chapter 30 Thinking Session Part 5: Writing it down- Kline says the point of writing down the the incisive question is so that it ‘does not get lost’ (p185). She says that the same incisive question can be used again in the future. She also advises writing down the action points. I find this very useful myself when I am being coached so I invite those I’m coaching to do the same.

  • On Marie Reilly wrote:

    Chapter 31 Thinking Session Part 6: Appreciation- Kline recommends that both coach and coachee finish off the session by admiring a ‘positive quality’ (p187) in the other person. When I am coaching, I invite the coachee to say what they found helpful about the session. However I have never told them what I admired in them. I can see now that mutual appreciation would be helpful too. Kline says ‘closing with appreciation keeps people thinking after the session’ (p31). She also reminds us to say ‘thank you’.

  • On Marie Reilly wrote:

    Chapter 32 – Time is what it takes- the essence of this chapter is summed up in the sub- title: ‘to take time to think is to gain time to live’ (p-189). We all think we don’t have enough time but the irony is that if we take the time to think for ourselves (and to others), we will actually make fewer mistakes and have more time in the long-run.

    Chapter 33 Afterthought- the thinking process is ever-evolving. The image that springs to mind for me is a jig-saw. When we add each new piece, we see a bigger picture. The only difference here is that the ‘thinking environment jigsaw’ is never complete as there will always be a new piece or pieces to add.

  • On Marie Reilly wrote:

    Chapter 34 The Thinking Society – Introduction: possibilities-Kline’s dream would be for the ‘whole world to become a Thinking Environment’ (p196) and for the Thinking Environment to be ‘a way of being in the world’ (p197). In particular she focuses on five social environments: ‘health, schools, politics, love relationships and families’ (p197). I am especially looking forward to reading what she has to say about families.

  • On Val Mullally wrote:

    THANKS FOR YOUR HARD WORK, MARIE AND ANCA. I’M SUGGESTING TO KEEP MOVING AT YOUR OWN PACE AND MAKING COMMENTS, AS YOU HAVE ALREADY BEEN DOING, OVER THESE LAST FEW CHAPTERS. WE’RE NEARLY FINISHED!

  • On Marie Reilly wrote:

    Chapter 35 Health
    Kline’s own health story is fascinating. She tells us she learned to live in a ‘consistent environment of five times more hope than fear, five times more belief in me than scepticism, five times more appreciation of me than criticism’ (pp198-199). Even then she was sowing the seeds of a thinking environment. For me, ‘appreciation of me’ is challenging. Even when I was asked to look at what I thought I had done well during the observed coaching, my initial thoughts went to what I thought I hadn’t done so well. I heard a phrase recently that was very helpful when preparing for the observed coaching and that was ‘there is no such thing as failure, just feedback’. I could then see the whole experience as an opportunity to grow and stretch myself on my parenting and coaching journey. I think the section in this chapter on the Doctor in the thinking environment is revolutionary. Kline states that her GP’s ‘attention and respect are at least as important in her work as is her expertise’ (p205). Many of us have had the experience of feeling rushed when we go to a doctor or consultant, especially if they are running late to begin with. There is often a sense of being on a conveyor belt or that you are just another patient. If doctors could employ even just the listening element of the thinking environment, imagine how much better we would feel, no pun intended! Kline sums it up well when she says ‘in truth, to help is to listen'(p206). She also says that ‘interrupting takes twice as long as listening’ (p207). We would do well to remember this wherever helpful listening is required, be it with children, spouses, clients etc.

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