If you've practiced mindfulness, you know that this technique can help tie you to the present moment, boost your focus, increase patience, and more. What if you could apply those benefits to communication? Imagine how your relationships could improve.
Mindful communication does take practice, but it's a skill that you can develop and ultimately form more meaningful connections. Here's how it works and how you can apply it.
What Does Mindful Communication Really Mean?
We communicate with others all the time. Human communication is, at its essence, the transmission of information between a speaker and a receiver. These conversations can be very transactional when neither party is practicing mindfulness.
When both participants are communicating mindfully, they're both tuned in. The speaker considers what they're saying and the power of their words. The receiver aims to listen first and then think about and try to understand the message. Then, they formulate a response.
Benefits of Mindful Communication
Applying mindful communication can lead to many positive outcomes, including:
Increased capacity for paying attention
Improved active listening
Better ability to read body language
Increased understanding of the other person's needs
Better deep listening skills
Ultimately, all of these positive changes lead to better interpersonal communication and relationships. In fact, an entire body of research backs it up. In one study, researchers collected survey data from 34 leaders and 98 employees. There was a positive correlation between the self-reported mindfulness of leaders and employee satisfaction, which was ultimately driven by mindfulness in communication as perceived by the employees. [*]
*Write down the ways you want to be intentional with your mindful communication using a mindfulness journal. Check out our Amazon page!
How to Improve Your Mindful Communication
1. Set a Communication Commitment
In order to enter a conversation in a mindful state, you must first set that intention. Before you get into a conversation, ask yourself what purpose the conversation serves. Are you looking for a connection? Understanding? Information sharing? Problem-solving? Once you set that commitment, use it to guide your actions during the conversation. [*]
2. Listen First
Most people listen with the intent of replying rather than with the intention of understanding. However, it's when you give the speaker your careful attention without aiming to respond that you can really receive their message, form connections, and have truly successful communication.
When someone else is speaking, try to zero in on their words. Notice when you feel yourself start to try to compare their message to your own experiences and let those thoughts go so you can refocus on what you hear.
3. Notice the Power of Words
Every word you use holds meaning that the other person will take and process. It's important to be aware of your word choice in all interactions, especially in difficult conversations. Give yourself time to think through what message you want to get across before speaking to ensure that the other person receives your truth.
*Try this mindfulness journal to write down how much power your words can have on people.
4. Avoid Premature Judgment and Mindreading
One thing that can take you out of the present moment is making judgments. You may be forming opinions about what someone is telling you as they're telling you. Or, you might be trying to read their mind and determine where their story is going ahead of time. Either way, this habit can distract you and stop you from giving your full attention. Instead, aim to take a non-judgmental approach. Without judgment, you have more room to respond with compassion.
5. Follow Connection
It can be hard to constantly check in with yourself during conversation to make sure you're being a mindful communicator. Even this act in itself may take you out of the moment. To make this easier on yourself, you can aim to follow connection instead.
As you enter conversations, focus on tuning yourself into the other person. As you zero in on what they're saying, what feelings they're communicating, and the point they're making, you'll find that you can react with empathy and ultimately connect with the other person. Then, let that sense of connection guide how you respond.
6. Use Your Body Language to Show Your Presence
Part of practicing mindful speech relates to what you're saying with your physical presence. Body language can tell others plenty about your emotional state, whether you're listening, how you feel about the discussion, what your stress level is, and more.
Being mindful of your body language can go a long way. It can show the other person that you're remaining open to what they are saying even when in silence. It can also encourage the other person to speak. Be sure to make eye contact, avoid crossing your arms, and show that you're engaging with what they're saying.
7. Breathe to Ground Yourself
It can be hard to remain fully present in a conversation. Sometimes, especially during difficult conversations, you may need to take steps to recenter yourself. If you need to, take a few deep breaths to help you clear your mind and move forward with intention.
Becoming a more mindful communicator takes practice. However, the more you tune into the connection you form with others, listen to understand, and carefully choose your words, the more effective communication you'll enjoy. To help you stay on track, be sure to use a mindfulness journal.
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