Thinking HARD

October 5th, 2015 by Patricia Jehle Leave a reply »

Listening and Thinking Together


Listen, really listen

One of the best things we can do for another person is listen to them. Really listen, I mean. This means listening- not to answer or to find their problem or a solution to their problem. Just listen. Be present for that person, ready to engage, if and when they ask.


When they ask you can look at the underlying assumptions the speaker has: is it true (and can you prove it), is it possibly true, is it partially true, and is it false. Those are the options.


Assumptions and truth

This is where you as the listener can ask questions to help the thinker come to a more accurate way of viewing the situation. Assumptions really drive everything we do: choices and actions. Sometimes those false assumptions can stop a person dead in their tracks. That’s where finding the true assumption and replacing the false one can really help. Whether it was the best or the worst decision you ever made, you would know what that decision was and the underlying assumption driving it.


According to Nancy Kline, “Assumptions are the reason we think, feel, decide and do just about everything. The excitement starts when we start noticing them, and then replace the untrue ones with true ones…” (from More Time to Think) This is where the listener can ask good incisive questions.


Questioning to help

So what are some of those questions? Try these:


What are you assuming that is most stopping you from moving forward?

Do you think that assumption is true? If yes, why? If no, what is liberating and true instead? AND

If you knew (insert the true assumption that is liberating), how would you move forward?



This is the hardest thing in the world for us listeners. I am still practicing this, but am getting better. You see, the person talking is doing their own thinking. I do not think for that person. But it is hard to really listen and not interrupt. So you listen until the person is finished. You can ask, “Was that all you wanted to say?” This give the person the permission to continue if need be. If the answer is yes to your question, then you ask your incisive question, but not before. Another way of asking would be, “What more do you think, feel, or would like to add?”


Egos must disappear

It is the person talking who figures out what their problem is, who figures out what their limiting assumptions are (that which is blocking the way forward), and who figures out what the real (true and liberating) assumption(s) is. This is real coaching, the other is counseling or consultation. There is a great power in listening to someone. But it means that our egos have to sit on the back burner and we have to listen, really listen.


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