Mindful Communicating: The Intention in mindful attention that engenders trust.

Mindful reflective listening is very effective, but how many of us do it? A study of 8,000 people in a variety of contexts found that although most people believed that they listen well, the average person listened at about 25% effectiveness. Perhaps that’s why most people don’t feel a need to communicate more effectively or simply attribute any difficulties to someone or something else.  In other words, we are biased toward ourselves.

The following are some simple ways to promote mindful communication:

  • Make appropriate eye contact, long enough so that it can be noted that you are interested and listening to what is being said.
  • Practice …’breathing out, dropping your shoulders and letting go of the temptation to jump in, advise or…
  • Reflect back what has been said so that the other person feels heard.
  • Explain what is going on for you,

“When you…

I think…

I feel…

which makes me want to …

what I would prefer is…”

Being ‘heard’ conveys a message that what we think, and feel, is valued and important. This helps us to build trust and helps us be more open and vulnerable – that it will be safe. There can be no real intimacy without vulnerability and no vulnerability without safety and trust.

“Mindfulness has been described as “paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally” (Kabat-Zinn, 1994).

Mindfulness in communication is about paying attention in a particular way, active and flexible, showing sensitivity to the context (how has their day been?), being open to multiple points of view, and having the ability to take in the perspective of another (Burgoon et al., 2000).”

There are times when taking another’s perspective is hard to do. In moments of gridlock, we may need to take the focus off our partner and do a little mindful self-reflecting to discover our own unfinished business. We focus on our self instead of “working on the relationship” (D.Schnark).  Mastering our-selves, rather than attempting to change or control another, is key to mindful communication.

Taking personal responsible action to step out of our emotions and into the hub of the Wheel of Awareness, we can be self-reflective and observe our situation without being drawn into reactivity. With space to respond mindfully, we become aware and better able to maintain our equilibrium. We have freedom to choose, paying attention to another, in the present moment, with kindness.

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