In-depth post #4 (week six and seven)
A good listener respects the speaker, pays attention, is genuinely interested, and values what is heard. At the beginning of your in-depth project, you probably spend more time listening than speaking with your mentor. Make sure you are patient and do not interrupt the speaker. De Bono states, “If you listen carefully and attentively you will get more value from listening than talking” (p. 67). Listening gives you new ideas, new information, new facts, new insights and new discoveries. When listening, take notice of the vocabulary being used, repeat or paraphrase part of the conversation, ask questions (more about this later), or ask for more details. According to de Bono, there are two foci: what is the speaker trying to tell you and what are you hearing and is it relevant to what the speaker is trying to say? For example, listen to the argument as well as the content of the argument.
Try to address some of the following possibilities during your next visit with your mentor:
- #4 What new information are you getting and what questions did you ask to probe further into the topic?
- #5 Discuss any new points of view you developed while in conversation with your mentor.
- #6 What were some of the alternative perceptions that are new to you.
- #9 How do your mentor values differ from yours?
- #12 What questions did you ask to check on facts and details? Elaborate.
In addition to how to listen, it is also important to ask questions to generate interaction. De Bono states, “A question is simply a way of directing attention” (p. 81). Are you able to distinguish between shooting and fishing questions? Which type do you tend to use most of the time? Why? Questions allow you, for example, to check on the source and the validity of the information being shared, ask for more details, ask for an explanation, offer alternatives and possibilities, modify the proposition form the speaker, state multiple choice options and clarify values. Asking about the basis of someone’s thinking, someone’s feelings, someone’s decisions, or someone’s proposal will clarify the conversation.
Try the following during the next session with your mentor:
- #1 Ask questions. Record them. Why did you ask these questions?
- #8 Ask for an explanation for a certain skill you are learning. Discuss what happened.
- #11 Ask a multiple choice question. Was this useful? Explain.
- #12 Ask the speaker to clarify his or her underlying values for doing, thinking and feeling the way they do.
Keep the interest level high.
Quirien Mulder ten Kate
In-depth post #3 (week four and five)
De Bono continues his discussion of how to have a beautiful mind with “how to be interesting” and “how to respond.”
Let’s start with how to be interesting. He suggests to talk about what you are passionate about. Sounds like talking about your in-depth project is a perfect fit. You will need to be able to talk about it with people who know nothing about the topic, for example your peers and/or teachers! Secondly, you need to be able to talk about it with people who know something about it, such as your mentors. There are different types of interests: sharing information, asking “what if” types of questions, offering possibilities, alternatives and speculations and making connections between them and practising creativity and new ideas. De Bono suggests that we get into the habit of saying, “Now that is interesting” (p. 49), because it pauses the conversation, stating it “Opens up possibilities and alternatives. You will make connections” (p. 49). In other words, you will have to explain why you find that point interesting.
During your next session with your mentor try…
- #6 To find and make connections that link matters together and generates interest.
- #10 To explore, to elaborate and to pull interest out of the matter.
- #3 To use the “what if” statement to get to new lines of thought.
De Bono states that there are three objectives to a conversation: to reach agreement, to agree on the points of difference and to have an interesting time together. How do we reply or respond to parts of the conversation will further direct the conversation. There are a number of reasons to respond to a comment: asking for clarification, offering support, sharing examples and stories, building on the conversation points, extending the discussion, carrying the discussion forward into practice or modifying the proposition being stated.
During the next two weeks, try
- #2 to ask for clarification whenever you are unclear or in doubt about something the mentor tells you or shows you.
- #3 to support a point your mentor makes with additional facts, figures, evidence etc.
- # 5 to share a personal story that illustrates the conversation topic.
- # 10 to modify an idea to make it more acceptable to yourself and to make it stronger or more practical.
Have fun this week.
Quirien Mulder ten Kate
The in-depth this year will incorporate a discussion and application of Edward de Bono’s book, called How to Have a Beautiful Mind. What can you do to make your mind more beautiful? This mind can be appreciated by others, often in conversations. This project is built on conversations between you and your mentor. You are going to learn from your mentor by careful observations as well as conversations about your observations of his or her craft. This in-depth project is not about reading about your craft but about practicing your craft. The habits described in this book have to be practiced, too. What better way, then trying some of these habits with your mentor?
The first three habits are how to agree, how to disagree and how to differ. Read the corresponding three sections in your book. For the in-depth followers who do not have this resource, here is a brief summary.
- How to agree? It is important that you do not agree or disagree with everything your mentor is telling you. This would be rather irritating. As a mentee who is starting to learn a new skill with a mentor who is the expert, being right all the time in an argument or any situation is not helpful in this relationship. You are trying to explore the craft alongside your mentor with mutual respect and patience. Everyone has their own logic bubble that is formed by perceptions, values, needs and experiences. Seeing where that person is “coming from” helps you see their logic (p. 6). Also, find a special circumstance in which or a certain value for which an idea may make sense. Generalizations also get us into trouble.
During your next session with your mentor try to follow some of de Bono’s guidelines for how to agree (p. 11). For example:
- #7 See if there are any circumstances in which the other person’s views might be right.
- #6 Make a real effort to see where the other person is coming from.
- #1 Genuinely seek to find points of agreement in what the other person is saying.
How to disagree? Being able to disagree helps us tell the truth as well as “investigate any issue objectively and fully” (p. 14). Make sure that when you disagree you are polite. Reasons to disagree are, for example, errors in logic, limited interpretation of data and selective perception. Is the disagreement objective or does it come from emotions, different experiences, sweeping generalizations and extrapolations. De Bono states, “You may be willing to accept something as a “possibility” but very unwilling to accept it as a “certainty” (p. 22). Do not just say you disagree, but state the type of disagreement (see p. 24).
During your next session with your mentor try to follow some of de Bono’s guidelines for how to disagree (p. 26). For example:
- #2 Do not disagree just to show how clever you are or to boost your ego.
- #8 You may want to disagree to show a different personal experience.
- #12 Distinguish between having a different opinion and disagreeing with an opinion.
- How to differ?
One difference is on one opinion being right and the other being wrong. The second difference has to do with opinions about the future which can be right or wrong as time will tell. There are many sources for differences in opinion: personal preferences, values, points of view and different personal experiences. It is best to spell out the difference in opinions and the reasons for this difference. Sometimes we need to accept a difference of opinions and while at other times, terms may need to be clarified that led to a difference of opinion.
During your next session with your mentor try to follow some of de Bono’s guidelines for how to differ (p. 19). For example:
- When a difference arises, try to figure out what this difference is based on.
- Can a difference be reconciled? Which difference and how can it be reconciled?
- Do you and your mentor have a different opinion of the future? How so?
- What are some of the opinions of your mentor? How do they compare to yours?
Task: In your second in-depth post comment on your progress so far and how you were able to incorporate the first three aspects of how to have a beautiful mind.