I was thinking this morning about the word thoughtful and how, in the Courage and Renewal leadership work that I facilitate, being thoughtful about how we engage with others, actually depends on being thought-less.
What I mean by that is that when I lead a group of leaders in an online or face to face setting, we start with an exercise to help still our minds, to slow down thoughts and hopefully switch them off for a few minutes. This brings us fully into the presence of ourselves and others, whether that is online or in person.
One of the foundations of Courage and Renewal work is deep listening, focusing on what the ‘other’ person is saying, and we cannot do that if we allow our attention to focus on our own thoughts. How many times, in meetings, do we start listening to someone and something they say sparks a thought process and instead of just mentally noting it or jotting it down as something to return to, and continuing to listen fully, we run with it and lose all focus on what that person is saying. Or, worse still, we interrupt, cutting of their thought flow and imposing our own.
By doing this we so often miss the juice, the deepness which comes from letting an individual expand on their point.
At the beginning of Courage and Renewal programmes, we teach deep listening skills, and allowing space between dialogue, to allow what has been said to sink in, to allow ourselves time to see how their words sit within us and what our own response may be saying about ourselves. We encourage reflection, either in the mind or in a journal, and only then do we resume dialogue.
'How on earth could this work in a meeting?', you might be thinking. Well…… instead of racing through a number of issues, and jumping on the first suggestion which often comes from the most confident or most senior person around the table, we can take one issue, explore it much more deeply, invite everyone’s thoughts and reflections. Still waters run deep, but only when we let them become still.
So, if you’d like some time to practice being thoughtless, which leads to better and more thoughtful, respectful conversation in your meetings, find out about our Time to Lead sessions here Reflective Leadership
If you enjoy my blogs, you can read more of my work in my book available here www.amazon.co.uk/Words-Walks-Wisdom-Wendy-Bowers/dp/1671172353