Encouragement: The sixth Component of the Thinking Environment
The sixth component of a Thinking Environment is the component of encouragement. One of the things that I absolutely love about the component of encouragement is the way that we define it in a Thinking Environment, because I think often when we think about encouragement, we think about cheerleading, we think about rah, rah, and cheering people on.
There's an aspect of that to the component of encouragement, but the way that we define encouragement in a Thinking Environment, actually, is to give courage to the person that you're listening to, to give them courage, not by doing something, but by being with them in a way that they feel that you are more genuinely interested in what is real and true for them than you are fearful of being proved wrong.
It’s about being with them in a way that you want, more than anything, that they go to the cutting edge of their ideas, that they go to the edge and beyond that they get in touch with their ideas, even the unpopular ones, the ones that they may feel some concern about whether you will agree with them, or whether you're like them, that you set all of that aside.
That how you create encouragement for a person: when you listen to them, you stop judging them, you stop evaluating them, you stop assessing them, and more than anything, you stop analyzing them. You stop listening to them through the lens of knowing what they really mean, even though that's not what they're actually saying. You set aside your view of their thinking, and you replace that, instead, with getting genuinely interested in where their thinking is going.
When we create this component of encouragement, what we're doing is we're setting aside that internal narrative of competition that we all live with, of whether it's good enough, whether we agree with it, whether we like it, whether it conforms to what we think we set all of that aside, and instead we get interested in what does this person really think, and where is it that they're trying to go in their thinking, and genuinely wanting that for them more than we want them to be like us.
That's the components of encouragement, moving beyond internal competition.