One of our business leaders,  Malcolm Ferguson, took some time to share with us how he was introduced to the idea of listening to ignite the human mind, through a book that helped him identify win-win business opportunities, by simply being present and engaging. The book in question is:
Time to Think, written by Nancy Kline.

In your own words, what is the book about?

The book is about the importance of listening. The author’s message is that if you’re a good listener, you enable others to think clearly.  What is different about this book is that Kline is not advocating what is known as “active listening” – engaging and leading the speaker with questions.  Kline’s message is a lot simpler – just pay attention. Paradoxically, this is a also a lot more difficult, because it demands discipline.

Why do you believe others should read this book?

MF: I believe the fundamental human need is to connect with others, and this is hampered by limiting assumptions we make about others and ourselves.  If we discipline ourselves to listen with open minds, we’re well on our way to connecting.

What did you enjoy most about the book; share your favourite part of the book.

MF: What I enjoyed most about the book was the simplicity. I think in many ways it speaks to one of my own weaknesses – impatience.  In my favourite part of the book, Ms Kline sets out a very simple process for conducting a thinking session. She then gives an account of the thinking session in practice, which allows one to experience the process through someone else’s eyes.  This encouraged me to try it for myself.

What insights from the book are changing the way you behave professionally?

MF: The most powerful insight for me is that one can unlock potential in others simply by listening to them.  This is very different to the the way I used to listen – effectively waiting for others to conclude so that I could share my own perspective. Nancy Kline is advocating that you listen to others until they are finished, then pause and ask them if there is anything else on their mind, then listen again… I’ve tried this, and been surprised by the results.

What benefits are you seeing?

MF: I have applied the principles with some of our clients, to great effect. My focus and attention created the space for clients to think deeply about their own challenges and they then enlisted my help in addressing these challenges. I am therefore totally convinced that we can be more effective as a company if we take the time to listen openly to each other.

How can Leaders benefit from reading this book?

MF: As a leader, I’ve often fallen into the trap of believing I am expected to provide the answers that others need. Reading this book has reminded me that this is not the case. Instead, I can lead more effectively by creating the space for others to find their own answers.

The challenge is that this takes time – a leader’s scarcest resource – and Ms Kline presents a strong business case for investing time in listening.

Please share a quote or two that appealed to you from the book.

MF: Here are two that I tweeted:

(1)  “Supply information only when you are sure it will make an decisive difference in the direction, content or progress of the other person’s thinking.”

(2)   “You don’t have to be alive to keep teaching, if you’ve taught your life while you lived”.


~ By Maxine Jackson – Content Editor

You can order your copy of Time to Think, just CLICK HERE.

Book reference: Kline, N (1998), Time to Think, Cassell Illustrated.

Read to Lead

“What you read becomes what you know. When you practise what you know, you begin to grow. As you grow and share your knowledge you in turn contribute to the growth of others. When you share with and enlighten those around you, you have espoused wisdom. Knowledge speaks, wisdom leads.” ~ Brian Eagar.