Discover Why “The Thinking Environment” Is Crucial – Part 1

The Thinking Environment In this 10 part series, I explore the Ten Components (ten behaviours) of The Thinking Environment™ by Nancy Kline and how they impact relationships and interactions with my own real life examples.

“Time to think: listening to ignite the human mind.” (Nancy Kline)

Each Component is introduced with the principle and definition behind it, followed by an explanation and personal experience of each Component reflecting practical relevance, understanding, and applicability of the Component in a bigger context.

“The Thinking Environment” Component One – Attention


“Attention is an act of creation.”


“Listening with palpable respect and genuine interest without interruption.”

Attention to me is a form of mindfulness. It is being present in the moment, conscious of one’s self in relation to how conscious and present you are for another through the action of listening to them and being aware of the impact your level of attention has on them.

“Attention is the rarest and purest form of generosity” is another saying that articulates the value that this component can have on the receiving person.

As a listener, if I truly wish to engage with someone and connect on an authentic and deeper level with them– I have to consciously remind myself to listen with this kind of attention.

This is true respect for someone else. On one hand, it is intangible in that it can be a silent contract between talker and listener, initiated by the listener – which in essence shifts the dynamic of the interaction and can set the tone of that interaction.

It is powerful, hence the impact it has as a core Component.

Personal Experience

As a facilitator and chair in various business roles, the gift of consciously creating and managing attention of this kind to others is a key leadership attribute.

Amongst other characteristics, it shows an inclusive and integrative leadership style.

Through this approach, I am able to control the dynamic of the group through this attention with others.

In this facilitator role, my calm, respectful listening promotes participation while reducing ego – as the facilitator is not ‘competing’ with the group and this sets the expectation for how others conduct themselves and interact with others in a meeting.

Attention of this kind, is not an inherent attribute in humans, as although we are social beings, our desire to matter and be heard can suppress our listening skills.

We are also competitive by nature in business and getting ahead, thus this kind of attention has to be an “act of creation”.

In these roles – I have dealt with gender, ego and dominating issues and through managing and maintaining consistent, impartial openness to hear and receive what each person has to say and using the power of Attention in this way, I am able to diffuse and maintain control of meetings.

This has proven over time to show this “palpable” (thus becoming tangible) respect. The structured board format is the perfect platform to subtly introduce this Component as it blends well with the overall purpose of a board – to each give input, be heard, discuss strategies, and make joint decisions.


Having consciously practiced this form of attention giving many times in various scenarios, I am constantly surprised at the power of influence it has over the dynamics of the interaction – to helping a friend really feel heard and lift her spirits – thus empowering her thinking processes as she felt, to facilitating professional interactions in a mature and focused way.

As we go through all Ten Components (behaviours), you will see how they all work hand-in-hand with each other, yet each one is so powerful on its own.

For more information on this remarkable workshop and make sure to get your free copy of The Thinking Environment™ Overview.

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