Time To Think by Nancy Kline - Book Review by John Ainley

By John, Jul 31 2014 01:42PM

“Pay attention and be still, inside yourself” – Nancy Kline

I had heard a lot about this book prior to reading it and I had also been a ‘goldfish’ in a Meyler Campbell fishbowl illustrating the Nancy Kline ‘technique’. I admit to going into reading this book with a degree of negative expectation. I had endured rather than enjoyed the fishbowl and, despite trying, had started to resent the incessant use of ‘and then?’ and ‘what more?’ in the session.

In reading the book I quickly revised my prejudice. Many chords were struck with my instincts and experiences. I am a great believer in the concept of ‘Flow’ and found many parallels in Kline’s thinking, particularly In the intense concentration that shuts out the noise and see ‘Time to think’ as a very helpful route through to attaining flow.

I also saw links with Kilburg’s work, particularly the ability that a Kline enquiry has to make the ‘unsaid said’ and make the ‘unconscious conscious”.

I have long been a student of Peter Block, much of his thinking and Kline’s work are on the same page: ‘Change is chosen & not mandated’; we must feel we own an issue; ‘if I can’t say ‘no’, my ‘yes’ means nothing’; We must confront ourselves with the freedom to choose, what is possible here? the ‘enemy of commitment is lip service’ and ‘appreciate the gifts we bring not the deficiencies’.

I have wondered about the link between Learning styles (Furnham) and Kline’s approach. Would the reflector benefit more from this style of enquiry than the activist or pragmatist? I suppose that it would simply be harder to engage these people with the Kline approach.

In conclusion I have revisited my prejudices laid out in the opening paragraph and my thoughts have shifted through reading and thinking about the book. It is not a technique, more a way of being. When used in artificial circumstances such as a fishbowl it can feel like a technique. We all need to listen more and to set aside the noise that is in our brain and our surroundings. I do believe that “the brain that contains the problem also contains the solution”. However I do, as Nancy Kline states in the book, believe that there are times when thinking is helped by “Information, sometimes”.


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