Sustaining the Thinking Collaborative Journey

Signature Stories

We are delighted to share that Bob Garmston’s next publication will be available soon through Corwin Press. The draft title is The Power of Story Telling: How Leaders and Presenters Persuade. Bob has been gracious enough to allow us to give you a little preview this month.

One of the book chapters describes sources of stories including personal stories, stories from the work culture, and stories from specific cultures. One other source is called signature stories. This

…is a story about something that is autobiographically you, that contributes to your uniqueness, and that illustrates a theme in your life. Signature stories can be told many times, to many different audiences…
Most of us don’t think of our lives as signature stories, but we all have one. Finding yours can be a source of grounding for stories in a variety of contexts. Bob describes his as when he stole his birth certificate from the county clerk’s office.
Signature stories, because they are so personal, require consciousness in their use. They are probably not appropriate in a small office setting where personal boundaries for supervision might be important. They are very appropriate for keynotes in capturing the audience and connecting. It is not about bringing attention to oneself or reliving an experience, but instead to emphasize a key point.
What might be some signature stories you could develop in your work?

Why Stories are So Persuasive?

We are delighted to share that Bob Garmston’s next publication will be available soon through Corwin Press. The draft title is The Power of Story Telling: How Leaders and Presenters Persuade. Bob has been gracious enough to allow us to give you a little preview this month.

We have all experienced a moment when a presenter or leader captured our hearts and minds through the almost magical sharing of a story. What are some that you can recall from your own experiences?

Dr. Garmston explains the power of story in the first two chapters of his book using both poignant stories and background from the neurosciences. He carefully models the power of the story in his writing. We learn that stories have far greater power than data to influence. Garmston states, stories

…are uniquely effective because: (1) they stimulate neurological changes that increase empathy; (2) they personalize presentation content, sending forth a gossamer filament that connects the audience and the presenter; (3) they open windows to the intuitive knowledge of an audience; and (4) they can tap the resources of the unconscious mind.
When is a time where you might tell a story instead of presenting data?

Categories of Stories

We are delighted to share that Bob Garmston’s next publication will be available soon through Corwin Press. The draft title is The Power of Story Telling: How Leaders and Presenters Persuade. Bob has been gracious enough to allow us to give you a little preview this month.

The book presents four types of stories as an organizer for ways we might want to influence an audience. The presenter or leader assesses his/her audience’s needs and chooses a category to best serve them. One type is for Shifting Perceptions, which taps into flexibility. It invites the listener to move beyond current mental models and consider new ways of interpreting the world.

A second category is stories for Inviting Learning. These inspire the recipient to open him/herself to new understandings and ways of thinking about the familiar and unfamiliar. A third category is Inspiring Action which plants seeds for trying new ways of being and acting in one’s world. Finally, there are stories for Changing Behavior. These are stories to help the listener acknowledge existing states and seek more desirable behaviors, attitudes, and ways of perceiving.

As you consider a presentation you have coming up, which of these types of stories might serve your audience?

Revision to Cognitive CoachingSM Capability 3…the How

After extensive study and rich dialogue with Art Costa and Bob Garmston, Thinking Collaborative has determined that the work of Cognitive CoachingSM would be best served with a revision to Capability 3. For years, Capability 3 has read “Adjust One’s Style Preferences.” Going forward, Capability 3 will now read, “Attune to and Adjust for Human Uniqueness.” This revision has been made with high consciousness of current global conditions and offers a hopefulness that this principle will provide the What, Why, and How for transformative action regarding human uniqueness. For the January Sustaining the Journey, we will explore this change in language and thinking:

Capabilities are principles (internal representations of conditional knowledge) that provide a container for our metacognitive maps. These mental maps guide our behavioral choices. A capability serves to deepen our awareness of our intent in any decision-making moment and provides a “how to” for mediators of thinking.

As you internalize the capability of attuning to and adjusting for human uniqueness, consider the following:
• What might you focus on to develop respect and appreciation for another’s human uniqueness?
• What are your hunches about your own language patterns as you pose questions to explore human uniqueness?
• What are you noticing about your own uniqueness?

Revision to Cognitive CoachingSM Capability 3…the How

After extensive study and rich dialogue with Art Costa and Bob Garmston, Thinking Collaborative has determined that the work of Cognitive CoachingSM would be best served with a revision to Capability 3. For years, Capability 3 has read “Adjust One’s Style Preferences.” Going forward, Capability 3 will now read, “Attune to and Adjust for Human Uniqueness.” This revision has been made with high consciousness of current global conditions and offers a hopefulness that this principle will provide the What, Why, and How for transformative action regarding human uniqueness. For the January Sustaining the Journey, we will explore this change in language and thinking:

We each hold personal “images of truth.” These images are constructed over time and become our mental models for viewing the world. Our mental models are usually held at an unconscious level and only become visible when we interact with a person or culture holding a different mental model.

Cognitive Coaches consciously strive to create comfort and rapport so that the coachee can feel free to be authentic, to live into their uniqueness. Guided by capabilities, the coach remains focused on tool choices and responses. They understand that operating and communicating from capabilities expand their repertoire of responses in order to honor the uniqueness of those they coach.

• How might you increase your coaching effectiveness through the capability of attuning to and adjusting for human uniqueness?
• What might be some human uniqueness that you might attune to and adjust for?

Revision to Cognitive CoachingSM Capability 3…the What

After extensive study and rich dialogue with Art Costa and Bob Garmston, Thinking Collaborative has determined that the work of Cognitive CoachingSM would be best served with a revision to Capability 3. For years, Capability 3 has read “Adjust One’s Style Preferences.” Going forward, Capability 3 will now read, “Attune to and Adjust for Human Uniqueness.” This revision has been made with high consciousness of current global conditions and offers a hopefulness that this principle will provide the What, Why, and How for transformative action regarding human uniqueness. For the January Sustaining the Journey, we will explore this change in language and thinking:

It is important to understand filters. As human beings, we filter all incoming information from the world around us based on our own personal life learnings. Knowledge of our own and others’ filters offers us an opportunity to be flexible with verbals and nonverbals by attuning and adjusting.

Likewise, it is important to clarify the new language of Capability 3. The words “attune” and “adjust” were carefully chosen for the richness of the meaning that they offer. Attune is being aware, receptive, and harmonious. Adjust is synonymous with accustom, calibrate, and orient. Both “attune” and “adjust” are required to coach for human uniqueness.

Attuning is about preparing oneself to be receptive and aware of what the other person is bringing, both verbally and nonverbally. Attuning requires empathy, rapport, and consciousness of self and others. Adjusting means noticing first the needs of others and making adaptations of our own needs, biases, and preferences in order to genuinely connect and serve others. Both are necessary to truly achieve human rapport and understanding (Hayes, Merola, Simoneau, 2018).

• When is a time when you have attuned to and adjusted for another’s human uniqueness in your coaching?
• What impact did it have on your coachee’s thinking?

Revision to Cognitive CoachingSM Capability 3…the Why

After extensive study and rich dialogue with Art Costa and Bob Garmston, Thinking Collaborative has determined that the work of Cognitive CoachingSM would be best served with a revision to Capability 3. For years, Capability 3 has read “Adjust One’s Style Preferences.” Going forward, Capability 3 will now read, “Attune to and Adjust for Human Uniqueness.” This revision has been made with high consciousness of current global conditions and offers a hopefulness that this principle will provide the What, Why, and How for transformative action regarding human uniqueness. For the January Sustaining the Journey, we will explore this change in language and thinking:

Humans are beautifully unique! We each bring our experiences, our hopes, our fears, our learnings, and our perspectives to every interaction in which we engage. Our perceptions (our view of the world) are based on incoming data. Our brains receive about 400 billion bits of information per second. Because of this barrage of data, our brains must filter out what the brain deems as nonessential information and retain only what is determined as important. Because of this constant filtering, our conscious mind is only aware of 2,000 bits of incoming information per second (from Jeffrey Statinover, Harvard psychologist).

As explained in the 2018 Cognitive Coaching Foundation Seminar® Trainer’s Guide, filters are…

the internal reality of our unique worlds that we create from our lived experiences. A variety of filters impact our values, beliefs, identities, and world-views (Hayes, Merola, Simoneau, 2018).

As a result, “we do not see things as THEY are, we see things as WE are” (Anais Nin). Hayes, Merola, and Simoneau (2018) add:

For coaches to effectively interact as a mediator of thinking, they must first look inward at their own biases that have developed from unique filters. First and foremost, coaches must explore what is within themselves, and then consider: “Who am I in relation to the person I am coaching?”

• When coaching for human uniqueness this week, who might you need to be?

StJ December 11, 2017

This month’s Sustaining the Journey looks at some new research that supports the work of Adaptive Schools and Cognitive Coachingsm

The second week looks at ways to fine-tune your emotional intelligence by expanding your vocabulary!

The Acknowledging Paraphrase captures the content and emotion of a speaker’s message. In particular, the first paraphrase of the PACE in the Problem Re-Solving Map is an empathy paraphrase that mirrors the speaker’s emotion, or part of the existing state. During the Cognitive Coachingsm Foundation Seminar participants complete an emotion word bank to help pinpoint the emotion by matter of degree. Seven emotions – anger, fear, disgust, happiness, surprise, contempt, sadness — are articulated with words that capture a weak, moderate, or strong emotion. The identification of those seven emotions comes from Paul Ekman’s research (2003).

Eric Barker writes about some new research in his article, “New Neuroscience Reveals Three Secrets That Will Make You Emotionally Intelligent” (Observer, 09/01/17). His article cites Lisa Feldman Barrett’s new book How Emotions Are Made: The Secret Life of the Brain, which refutes some many long-standing beliefs about emotions and the brain.

Barker writes that new research reveals that those seven emotions that we believed were hard wired and universal is a myth and that some cultures do not have language for an emotion like sadness. Other cultures have words for emotions that we did not know we had!

Barker writes that the “secret to emotional intelligence might just be the Merriam-Webster Dictionary.” One key to emotional intelligence is to granulate or finely tune your ability to talk about emotions. Being able to differentiate between being “put out,” “agitated,” and “furious” is very important. He quotes Lisa Feldman Barrett’s new book,

You’ve probably never thought about learning words as a path to greater emotional health, but it follows directly from the neuroscience of construction. Words seed your concepts, concepts drive your predictions, predictions regulate your body budget, and your body budget determines how you feel. Therefore, the more finely grained your vocabulary, the more precisely your predicting brain can calibrate your budget to your body’s needs. In fact, people who exhibit higher emotional granularity go to the doctor less frequently, use medication less frequently, and spend fewer days hospitalized for illness.

So, how might you offer a paraphrase to an individual or in a group to capture the emotion at hand? How might you fine-tune your own emotional intelligence by expanding your emotion word bank?

Please enjoy your winter break! We will be back in January!

StJ December 4, 2017

This month’s Sustaining the Journey looks at some new research that supports the work of Adaptive Schools and Cognitive Coachingsm

The first week takes a look at the article, “Really? Really. How Our Brains Figure Out What Words Mean Based On How They’re Said,” by Jon Hamilton (Mindshift, August 25, 2017).

Hamilton begins the article with the simple: “It’s not just what you say that matters. It’s how you say it.” The author reports that scientists have identified specific brain cells that monitor changes in voice pitch that help us ascertain what is the real meaning of a speaker’s message. One of the lead scientists in the research, Dr. Eddie Chang (University of California, San Francisco) says that these brain cells “allow the brain to detect ‘the melody of speech’ or intonation.”

In our seminars, participants study the importance of intonation, credibility, and approachability. In PAG/PAU, for example, the directions are first delivered with a credible voice and then understanding of those directions are reinforced by the presenter/facilitator using approachable voice. In the PACE, the coach must match the speaker’s tone, otherwise the coaching may come off as patronizing. In both AS and CC, questions are asked with approachability. The speaker’s intonation goes up at the end of the question thus inviting thinking and response.

How might you be more mindful of not just the words that you say but also on the way that you say them?

StJ November 27th, 2017

In October, Sustaining the Journey addressed some typical first questions asked as participants learn the power of Cognitive CoachingSM. This month, we address a few of the typical questions that are asked as participants begin to understand and embrace the principles and tenets of Adaptive Schools.

How do I bring new members into a group that Is constantly turning over?

This is a challenge in most organizations and requires us to think about our work developmentally. We must first be clear about the Focusing Questions of Adaptive Schools, “Who are we?”, “Why are we doing this?”, and “Why are we doing this, this way?” When our group is clear about those, it is also clear about what new members need to understand in order to be integrated.

One important strategy is to take time with a new member to orient him/her to the group’s purpose and ways of working. Assigning a person to mentor and orient the new person(s) is helpful in saving group time. Norms of collaboration should be shared prior to the first meeting and revisited at the first meeting as a whole group. History of the group can also be provided along with current goals and strategies, both short and long term. It may be useful to consider input from both a team member and an administrator who supervises the new person(s).

Depending on the level of turnover, group development activities may be needed. These might include revisiting mission and core values, exploring individual needs such as history, personal styles, background, etc. With high turnover and rapid change, going slow to go fast will pay off. Relationships drive good work and should not be ignored.

Frequent checks with new members and existing members provide data for how the team is doing. Simple feedback questions at the ends of meetings provide informal formative data, e.g., “How are we doing as a new team?” More formal assessments can be done in writing or through interviews.

Integration of new members into a group s is a key issue which is often ignored by members who have history and experience with a group. New members need attention and understanding in order to be successfully integrated into a group if that group is to function at its best.

StJ November 20th, 2017

In October, Sustaining the Journey addressed some typical first questions asked as participants learn the power of Cognitive CoachingSM. This month, we address a few of the typical questions that are asked as participants begin to understand and embrace the principles and tenets of Adaptive Schools.

How do I encourage fearful group members to speak up?

One of the structures for successful meetings in Adaptive Schools is to develop standards, including balancing participation. In our training, we teach a variety of strategies for balancing participation. Some of those are Stir the Classroom, Think-Pair-Share, and Grounding. There are many others listed on the Thinking Collaborative website under Strategies.

Engaged participants and a group’s facilitator should be intentionally monitoring participation. Balanced participation does not mean everyone speaks equally; instead it means everyone has an equal opportunity to speak. If a person is silent, anyone can invite participation from that member. It might be as simple as saying, “I’d like to hear from ______ about this issue because we haven’t heard from him/her. A facilitator might say, “We’ve heard from 4 of the 5 of you (notice the offering of non-judgmental data). I would like to invite the thoughts from ________.” Any group member can also offer data in a debrief about levels of participation.

Some groups actually collect data about how often each member talks. This data can be offered at the end of a meeting for reflection on how the group is balancing participation.

StJ November 13th, 2017

In October, Sustaining the Journey addressed some typical first questions asked as participants learn the power of Cognitive CoachingSM. This month, we address a few of the typical questions that are asked as participants begin to understand and embrace the principles and tenets of Adaptive Schools.

What do I do about an overbearing group member?

A guiding principle for working with others is always to presume positive intent. This requires us to try to set aside our reactions to the group member and move to assessing, nonjudgmentally, what might be going on for the group member. It is often helpful to ask oneself the question, “What might cause me to behave this way in a group?” When we can look inward, we can usually recall a time when we may have behaved in such a way for a variety of reasons, e.g., unmet needs, high emotion, feeling unheard, having a personal concern, etc.

Once we take a “high road,” it frees us to let go of emotional negativity and to move to inquiry with the person. A direct communication with the person with an intention to understand is a resourceful approach. Sometimes we suggest, “Don’t get furious, get curious”. An open-ended question that seeks to understand is an effective approach. Examples include, “What are your thoughts and feelings about our work,” What are some of your noticings about our group,” or, “How might we work together to increase our group’s effectiveness?” Following the response, the most effective way to build trust is to paraphrase with an intention to truly honor the person’s thoughts and to try to understand.

StJ November 6th, 2017

In October, Sustaining the Journey addressed some typical first questions asked as participants learn the power of Cognitive CoachingSM. This month, we address a few of the typical questions that are asked as participants begin to understand and embrace the principles and tenets of Adaptive Schools.

The first and at frequent question is:

What do I do about a group that is disrespectful to each other?

This question is related to safety concerns described by Maslow on his hierarchy of needs and as a personal concern on the Concerns Based Adoption Model. If not addressed, the group will stall in its development and perhaps fail.

In the early stages of teaming or in small PLCs, there is often no designated facilitator who is charged with managing process. A facilitator can set up processes and address norms and behaviors in a group that is not yet developed to the point of being self- managing, self-monitoring, and self-modifying.

Any member of the group may suggest developing working agreements and norms of collaboration. This is best done early in the group’s work, but if it is not established, the issue can be raised at any time. A group that takes a few minutes at the end of a meeting to discuss how their meeting went will be more likely to grow in process.

Another strategy is for a member of the group or a facilitator to talk to the person about his behavior and the effect on the group. It is important not to make judgments, but to offer data, e.g., “Today you said, “I think you are out of line with that idea,” ‘You are wrong about that,” or, “That idea was rejected years ago and is not going to work here.” Data should be followed by a question such as, “What are your ideas about how that is affecting our group.” An authentic request for help can also be useful. It might sound like, “I really need your help in monitoring your comments that may feel hurtful to others.”

The Recalcitrant Coachee

How might one might deal with the recalcitrant coachee? How does one manage coaching with a person who exhibits directly or indirectly behavior that suggests that he or she does not want to engage in this type of conversation. There is probably not a single, “right” answer to those questions. However, some notions that you might take into consideration include:

• Relationship: Concentrate on securing a trusting relationship with the person. Relationship first, thinking second.
• Beliefs and identity: Consider what beliefs or identity issues might be affecting the person’s attitude towards a coaching relationship.
• States of Mind: Analyze the individual’s States of Mind to determine which state of mind might be low and interfering with his/her openness to working collaboratively.
• Be inclusive: Utilize the experience, talent, and expertise of the resistant individual in the work that you are doing, providing them with leadership opportunities.
• Be patient: If a coaching relationship is new, it may take some time to achieve a workable level of mutual understanding. Maintain a positive attitude towards the individual and assume positive intentionality on his/her part.
• Be persistent: Don’t give up!
• Be proactive: Search for personal initiatives that will contribute to working successfully with the individual.
• Preservation: Don’t wear yourself out fighting resistance. Spend 80% of your time working with those who are positive, appreciative, and benefiting from your efforts.

This week ask yourself how you respond to difficult people. Which strategies might be useful in your thoughts?

Talking and Writing by the Coach

Last week’s Sustaining the Thinking Collaborative Journey considered writing by the coach during a conversation. So what about writing by the coachee? David Sibbet, author of Visual Meetings, reminds us that gestures are the basis of all graphic representations. So as a person gestures, there is a graphic representation being offered. By matching gestures, a coach offers a mirror of the graphic representation the person is creating during the conversation. Often that is the visual cue to the person that organizes the thinking. Adding a visual metaphor in a paraphrase can also enhance the understanding of the coachee regarding his/her thinking.

Usually, we’ve found, it is unnecessary for a coachee to write. The very act of constructing one’s own thinking through conversation creates new neuronal connections in the brain that didn’t exist before. However, some people have the need to put ideas down for sustained memory. If a person starts to write or asks to write, the request should, of course, be honored. Some coaches have found it can enhance thinking for the person by offering some time to write at the end of the conversation. We believe writing is a thinking process, so there are no absolutes about how a person might need to use graphic representation of thinking as s/he speaks. The skilled coach will be consciously flexible in responding to the needs of the coachee.

What are you noticing about writing as part of your coaching conversations? What have you learned about use of graphics in coaching conversations?