When we observe people actively engaging in a very open and human way, we see greater energy, kindness and a way to treat each other that authentically says"you matter”.
It is no longer necessary to do that empirically or out of intuition: The Thinking Environment (Kline, 1999) offers us a robust methodology to create connection in 1-2-1conversations or full groups.
A ThinkingEnvironment is created when the Ten Components, or behaviors, are held in place by a person who explicitly observes simple principles like no interruption or distraction, and offers generative attention to one another. One component in place is already a plus, but it is the interplay of all ten that creates a solid container in which people feel really valued and appreciated for who they are. It seems that an environment free of judgment and expectation can really liberate the human mind. The components are attention, appreciation, ease, encouragement, diversity, information, feelings, equality, place and Incisive Questions (Source: timetothink.com).
We were already experienced facilitators using different methods for awareness based change when we came across Nancy Kline's work. The Thinking Environment manifests the simplicity that is found on the far side of complexity. It offers the workframe conditions in which people give the best of themselves - with what they really think and feel - that they normally find it difficult to express in other environments, especially in the workplace.
A clear process is offered by the Thinking Environment to create structures and routines for meetings, mentoring or solving problems based on people's wisdom, instead of advice. The process we find most valuable for inserting and sustaining a culture of gratitude is the Thinking Pairs, a structure that makes people incredibly interested in another’s person thinking in a very positive way.
The results of the process is subtle but powerful as we have been hearing in the feedbacks of our trainings and workshops. The practice is accompanied by journalling at the end of the day and complementary practices for a 52 weeks gratitude program, should the employee like to follow a more systematic approach to built up his/her gratitude muscles.
The whole process can be introduced together with a “shifts tracker” tool(identified, for the user, but anonymous for the company or organization) that collects information on different indicators so that the person can reflect daily and/or weekly on how that practice has been impacting their well being, what they have seen as results in their interpersonal relationships, their own health and moods, their ability to be creative and perform at work and her connection to self, others and the world.
Outcomes of these Thinking Pairs conversations can be collected on gratitude boxes, in which participants write on a note whom they are grateful to, and what for and at the end of the month, people gather to read what’s in the box and crystallized on a gratitude map that tracks the flow of consequences and impacts that one positive act has generated - showing interdependence and the chain of events that happen after an act of kindness at work. New maps can be displayed and celebrated, periodically.
The whole program has thus 4 components:
- Morning Practice: a periodical morning practice of 10 minutes in pairs with another work colleague ( pairs could rotate every week in large companies, so that at the end of the year, people have experienced 52 partners; or every month in smaller organizations - practices could be held daily, 2 or 3 times a week, weekly, or bi-weekly; in person and/or online or by phone), guided by a question, for example “How are you experiencing gratitude in your life today?”.
- Journaling and complementary practices to build gratitude muscles on a 52 weeks program (see above)
- Shift Tracker to track down changes in 4 domains: interpersonal; own well being; quality of actions at work; perception of connectedness.
- Collective outputs and celebration - through the gratitude box and Gratitude Chain Map.