Mindful communication: how to listen and speak with awareness and empathy
Communication is an essential part of our daily lives. From personal relationships to professional ones, we communicate with others to express our thoughts, feelings, and ideas. However, often we fail to listen and communicate mindfully, which can lead to misunderstandings, conflicts, and even hurtful words. Mindful communication is a powerful tool that helps us listen and speak with awareness and empathy. In this blog, we will discuss techniques for mindful communication that can help you improve your relationships and avoid conflicts.
Technique 1: Active Listening
Active listening is an essential part of effective communication. When we actively listen, we are giving our full attention to the speaker, without any judgment, interruption, or distraction. It means that we are not only hearing the words that the speaker is saying but also paying attention to their tone, body language, and emotions.
It can help both in your private and professional life – according to data collected during the study conducted in 2015, academically successful university students used different cognitive, affective, and psychomotor-based strategies in practicing active listening.
Active listening can also help build better relationships by showing the speaker that we value their perspective and are interested in understanding their point of view. When we listen actively, we can gain insight into the other person’s needs, concerns, and emotions, which helps us respond in a more thoughtful and empathetic way.
For example, let’s say your partner comes home from work feeling upset about something that happened during the day. Instead of dismissing their feelings or offering a solution right away, you can practice active listening. You can give them your full attention, maintain eye contact, and use nonverbal cues like nodding and affirming to show that you are listening. You can also acknowledge their emotions by saying something like, “It sounds like you had a difficult day. I’m here to listen.”
Asking open-ended questions can also help you understand the speaker’s perspective better. For example, you can ask your partner, “Can you tell me more about what happened?” or “How did that make you feel?” These questions can encourage the speaker to share more information, which can help you gain a deeper understanding of their perspective.
By practicing active listening, we can build better relationships with our friends, family, and colleagues, and communicate in a more empathetic and thoughtful way.
Technique 2: Mindful Speaking
Let’s explore another facet of mindful communication – mindful speaking. When we speak mindfully, we are intentional about our words and considerate of how they will be received by the listener. We aim to communicate our message with clarity, honesty, and empathy, and we avoid using language that may be hurtful or offensive.
One key aspect of mindful speaking is to consider the impact of our words on the listener. We can do this by being aware of our tone of voice, our body language, and our choice of words.
For example, let’s say you need to give feedback to a colleague on their work. Instead of criticising their work, you can:
→ Practice mindful speaking by focusing on the positive aspects of their work and offering constructive suggestions for improvement.
→ Start by acknowledging what they have done well and expressing appreciation for their efforts.
→ Then, you can offer specific suggestions for improvement in a non-judgmental and respectful way.
This way you will not hurt their feelings and still maintain your weekly breakroom gossip sessions.
Another aspect of mindful speaking is being honest and transparent in our communication. It’s important to speak truthfully and not withhold information that may be important or relevant.
Technique 3: Nonviolent Communication
Nonviolent communication is a communication technique that is widely used in counseling, mediation, and conflict resolution. It was developed by psychologist Marshall Rosenberg in the 1960s as a way to promote compassionate communication and understanding between individuals and groups.
The basic principle of nonviolent communication is to express oneself without blaming, judging, or criticising others. It focuses on identifying and expressing feelings and needs instead of demands or accusations. Nonviolent communication encourages individuals to communicate in a way that is respectful and nonviolent, even in difficult situations.
As an example, it could be that you need to express your dissatisfaction with your partner’s behaviour. Instead of accusing them of being selfish or insensitive, you can say something like, “When you don’t help me with household chores, I feel overwhelmed and unsupported. I need your help to create a more balanced relationship.” When you say it, you express your needs in a way that is non-judgmental and respectful, while still communicating your concerns and feelings. It can be a difficult talk, but If the person you’re discussing your feelings with is not intending harm, they are likely take your words in heart and change their behaviour.
Nonviolent communication also emphasizes the importance of active listening and empathy in communication. By listening with empathy and seeking to understand the other person’s perspective, we can build stronger relationships and avoid misunderstandings and conflicts.