Am I listening to ignite or to reply?
Is my attention palpably generative?
Am I giving the thinker the luxury of uninterrupted time to think a thought all the way through to their self-determined end? Do I show profound interest and curiosity in what the thinker will think next? Without commenting? Without judging?
Attention is the first component in the Thinking Environment for good reason. If it is the only component we practise, we are offering our conversation partner much more than they have probably ever had in any other conversation: profound, uninterrupted, generative, non-judgmental listening.
To become transformative listeners, we need to be aware of 3 streams of attention:
- Content - what is the thinker saying?
- Response - what is my response to what the thinker is saying?
- Thinking Environment - am I creating a full (with all 10 components) Thinking Environment?
I need to be careful about becoming distracted by the story I'm hearing and how it might relate to my own experience; to be wary of becoming emotionally invested in the thinker's story! When I hold all three streams in balance, the thinker can sense the quality of attention and be able to generate their own ideas without impediment.
Lastly, consider the paradox of Attention in a Thinking Environment. When you give Attention of this caliber:
- you are so present you become invisible
- you matter profoundly because you do not matter at all
- you do not need to be needed but are needed entirely
- you are essential, and you are irrelevant.