Mindfulness is all the rage these days. It seems like everywhere we turn there’s something about mindfulness in the news, online, in stores, etc. But what does it mean to be mindful and how does it apply to our conversations in both our personal and professional lives?
Mindfulness, by definition, is simply bringing your full awareness to the present moment, and only the present moment. Mindful conversation then is to be fully present in a conversation. Your attention is 110% in the conversation. This is challenging in today’s world given all the distractions and things vying for our attention. Mindful conversation has to be something we consciously decide to do, but how do we have mindful conversations with all the distractions that surround us all hours of the day and night?
Here are a few tips for having more mindful conversations:
- Remove distractions… turn off the TV, put devices away, etc. so you can give your full attention
- Listen with your eyes and your ears… look for those nonverbal clues (tone, body language, etc.), look the person in the eyes (keep your focus on them), etc.
- Keep the conversation on topic… if it is not relevant to the topic at hand, don’t bring it up as that just convolutes things
- In the words of Stephen Covey, “Seek first to understand then to be understood”
- Leave judgment, criticism, and defensiveness out of it
- Respond, don’t react… keep those emotions in check… listen, breathe, then respond and ask clarifying questions where needed… don’t jump to conclusions… think before you speak
- Listen fully to the other person before considering what your response will be (don’t get in the habit of deciding what you want to say early on, turning off your listening while you wait for your chance to say what you have in your mind
- Hear all the words and feel all the feelings, but don’t let them be triggers for a quick response… it’s ok to sit with your thoughts for a moment…
- Speak from a place of love and with a goal of not causing harm with your words… put yourself in the other person’s shoes and try to remember that we all are doing the best that we can with what we have and know at this moment (relational vs transactional)… “First, learn the meaning of what you say, and then speak.” — Epictetus
Learning to implement mindful conversations in your personal life lends itself to using them in your professional life as well (and vice versa). There are so many reasons why mindful conversations are the better choice for all your conversations…
- Both parties are heard and more likely to be understood.
- Resolutions are reached faster and more easily.
- Feelings are not so easily hurt because irrelevant comments and emotions are kept mostly out of it.
- Build a stronger rapport and trust with the people whom you have mindful conversations
- Less stress and anxiety for all parties involved.
- Gain a reputation as a mindful (or kind, considerate) person.
So, let’s practice a mindful conversation now. Even if you just take one of the items above and try implementing it when you have your next conversation, it is a huge step in the right direction. Keep adding on and before you know it, you will be a mindful conversations master.