The Art of Mindful Communication

” The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” George Benard Shaw

Can you hear me now?

I have often joked that monk on a mountain may have an easier time as he isn’t stuck dealing with people. We all have had a family member, boss, or colleague that we felt challenged by and needed to have a conversation to resolve the issues. Since you likely can’t retreat from the world you might as well learn how to communicate effectively.

A mindful conversation includes three parts; listening, looping, and dipping. For the details on how to practice scroll down…I find it considerably easier to practice with clients or just to practice than I do in “real” life or with certain people and relationships. Be easy on yourself and just practice. Remember kindness and curiosity go a long way.

AND so does perspective…

Being the oldest of four children I am always amazed at how differently we each view the same event. I can sit with my siblings discussing a prior holiday and some how we each have our own version as well as our own feelings. Same event, same people, completely different experience for each one of us. Remember this when dealing with others; your perception of what is occurring is different from the person you are communicating with.

Imagine an optical illusion you have seen in the past. Were you able to see it different ways or did it take a while? It is always interesting to me that we see things one way and may not even notice other ways unless someone points other options out to us. Suddenly we then have new options for our perception. Our awareness has broadened and we are now more open-minded and receptive. Remember this in your conversations. You want people to understand your perspective so be open to theirs as well. Passing judgement will only hurt you and them. Being compassionate for yourself and others will assist you greatly.

Mindful listening is the practice of giving your attention to another person moment to moment. Let’s be honest and think how often our minds wander to other things when we are with other people.  When your mind gets away and your attention wanders you simply notice and gently bring it back to the person. Being present with another person and listing to them feels like an act of compassion and kindness. You can even do it with strangers!

Looping is a process that looks like this: One person is speaking and then the other repeats back what they believe they heard.  The speaker then gives feedback and the listener again repeats until the the speaker feels understood. Your perception and awareness expand.

What is referred to as “dipping” is checking in with yourself. We are often distracted by our own thoughts, sensations, and experiences. This is useful for both the speaker and the listener. When you get distracted just notice without judgement. Name the emotion, notice the sensation, acknowledge the thought.

To practice formally you can get a partner and explore the following. Speaker one will speak for four minutes and speaker two will listen. Then, speaker two will repeat what speaker one said in an attempt to understand for four to six minutes. When one is speaking the other must be silent. You also must not try to “fix” the speaker’s problem. You aren’t listening to reply either. You are listening for them to feel heard and validated.

Remember also that you are continually checking in with yourself, perhaps sensing your body or noticing your breath, acknowledging your feelings. This insures you are present, consciously choosing your response, being kind and curious, and that you resolve problems.

Mindful Breathing, Mindful Emotions (Affect Labeling), and a Body Scan are a few core practices in mindfulness based practices so… if you practice these on your own then when you are having a conversation!!

If you would like to learn more about how mindfulness and mindful communication can help you or your organization please set up a phone consultation

Thank you,

Amy McCae

Corporate Wellness Trainer, Life Coach, and Mindfulness Meditation Teacher