Communicating effectively is a challenging skill. It is the basis of any long-lasting relationship, whether personal or professional. Mindful communication is a combination of Mindfulness—being present with our experience in the moment without reactivity—and Non-Violent Communication developed by Marshall Rosenberg, Ph.D. Here are some tips for communicating more effectively:
1. Be a Listener. Paying attention, listening, and engaging in what someone else is saying goes a long way. People want to be seen and heard! To be an engaged listener means to pay attention to the speaker without interrupting, show interest in what they are saying, and ask specific questions to ensure you have fully understood.
2. Get Rid of Distractions. Be intentional about putting anything away that can rob your conversation of the value and focus it deserves. Turn off your cellphone, close your computer, and take off your headphones. These distractions make others feel they are not important enough for a meaningful conversation.
3. Notice your body, facial expression, and tone of voice. Did you know that often you can speak more powerfully when not saying anything at all? The stance of your body, gestures, facial expressions, voice tones, eye contact and posture can send messages. Keep this in mind as you are listening to others speak, but don’t make assumptions about anything. Ask questions! For example, if the other person is looking downward as you speak and you are concerned that they lack interest, ask them how is this landing with you? Is this of interest?
4. Think Before You Speak. What you have to say matters, but once it is said there is no turning back. Strong feelings and stress get in the way of rational thinking during a conversation. Practicing mindfulness within conversations by taking deep breaths and pausing can help you remain relaxed and keep you from saying something you don’t mean.
5. Let go of your judgment and blame! Healthy relationships require trust, understanding, and a willingness to be open-minded. As you engage in healthy communication, it is important to take what others are saying willingly and receive information that can be used to learn and grow. You don’t always have to agree. Instead of reacting, get curious and try to understand how the other person arrived at their point of view.
6. Be open, honest, and vulnerable. Everyone wants to know they are talking to a real person, with real emotions, living in real-life situations. The best way to effectively communicate with others is to speak your feelings and needs. We learn to do this—and to inquire about others’ feelings and needs– through mindful communication.
Learning how to communicate effectively will help you connect and establish relationships with others more easily. The reality is, everyone wants to communicate with a person who truly listens, cares, and understands. Improving communication will reduce misunderstandings and conflicts, as well as increase your positive interactions and provide healthier relationships.