Road Sign or Road Block?

As a follow up to my previous post on the matter of learning to work more effectively with others, Time to Think, I’d like to share a quote from the book of the same name, written by Nancy Kline. Ms. Kline described why it is so vitally important not to interrupt others while in a conversation:

…don’t even think about interrupting them because this can block the creative flow that is trying to work itself out.  When working with someone be generous with your appreciation and focused with your critiques.  People need the context of genuine praise in which to make changes.  People shine in the light of your attention for them.  It is from that that they can see their own brilliance.  They shine when you remind them that they matter.

You can either be a road sign or a road block in the conversations you have with others. I’ve known many people who were hesitant in conversation or who felt socially awkward because they didn’t know much about the subject or they felt they weren’t sure of the “right” thing to say. Good conversation doesn’t have to be pre-planned, in fact, sometimes the best conversations occur simply because both parties are good listeners. If you listen well and relax in the rhythmic flow of the conversation, you’ll know what to say when the time is right.

I loved Ms. Kline’s description of the need to be “generous with your appreciation and focused with our critiques.” There is no doubt in my mind that this simple instruction could transform the large majority of personal relationships, friendships and acquaintanceships that are presently on unstable ground. But why stop there? Apply this in the workplace and the persistent white-collar/blue-collar, management/labor, boss/employee tension would slowly evaporate as trust, respect and encouragement filled the void.

Read this quote the next time you give an employee review, the next time you correct your children, the next time you talk to your significant other. Let it sink in and then go for it! The spirit behind these words is powerful and transformative!

10 thoughts on “Road Sign or Road Block?

  1. N. Kolya

    This is such a great point and so important for not only a business setting, but family and friends, too! It’s important to listen and to give someone the space for creative expression without stomping on it with our own thoughts.


    1. Maybe Nancy Sinatra needs to record a new version of “these boots are made for walking” that ends in “one day these little boots are gonna walk along with you” (instead of “all over”).


  2. J.J.Mc

    The old saying 2 ears to 1 mouth is the ratio for listening to speaking. I like the idea to review her quote before giving a review to an employee.
    The older I get the more I listen. I just hope it’s not too little to late.
    Thanks for the post.


  3. Joshua

    Thanks, this highlights exactly with precision, an area where undue tension has arisen these past couple of days!
    I quite possibly lost the opportunity to work for someone because I was to busy assuming what they wanted and jumped the gun on quoting the process involved. While busy listening to my own thoughts, scurrying around in my head I was not in position to hear exactly what was needed to bring EVERYTHING to fulfillment, including that with which those closest to me were attempting to say. Having seen this it’s now up to me to assume the responsibility and provide an ear thoroughly, for what my world is eagerly trying to say to me!
    Thanks Gregg!


  4. Colin

    What a great tip! I read somewhere (probably here) that your ratio of praise to criticism should be something like 6:1. If you follow these rules
    for any amount of time, you’ll notice that you have enough rapport with your fellows that when you offer that focused criticism, your words will be respected. While increased influence in your daily interactions is initially a primary selling point for using this method, I have found that the real reward is what you gain from truly listening to other people’s thoughts and concerns. Thanks!


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