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Are our coachees doing their best thinking

When we coach others, we want to stimulate their thinking. New thinking leads to new insights, generates options and supports changed behaviours. This is often termed ‘generative thinking’. What does it take to create the conditions for others to think for themselves? What coach behaviours are associated with coaches doing their best thinking? 

Rachel Lofthouse from Leeds Beckett University, whose work was featured in our previous edition, has researched the role of coach/coachee dialogue as a form of ‘co-construction of new knowledge’ under certain conditions. You can read more about her research here and the connection with creating more ‘aha’ moments in coaching here.

But what are some specific behaviours a coach can demonstrate that support high quality, generative thinking? Margaret Barr, GCI Lead Associate (Scotland), has referred to the work on Nancy Kline in her article “10 Ways to Generate More Thinking”. Margaret explains these concepts in the video below.


Nancy Kline, founder and President of Time to Think asserts:

“The quality of everything we do depends on the quality of the thinking we do first. The quality of our thinking depends on the way we treat each other while we are thinking.”

The ten behaviours that generate the finest thinking, and have become known as “The Ten Components of a Thinking Environment” TM, are:

  1. Attention
  2. Equality
  3. Ease
  4. Appreciation
  5. Encouragement
  6. Feelings
  7. Information
  8. Diversity
  9. Incisive Questions
  10. Place

Each component is powerful individually, but the presence of all ten working together gives this process its transformative impact.

For more see Nancy Kline’s paper.

For more on the power of the first component, “attention”, see Nancy Kline’s article for Coaching at Work, Catalytic Converter.

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