Getting on with Others: Communicating Mindfully

We all communicate with others every day, but how much of this communication is mindful? How many times have you asked someone ‘how are you?’ because you’re on autopilot, not because you’re particularly interested?

Being mindful is not just about meditation, you should be mindful in your daily interactions too.

What is mindful communication?

Mindful communication means that you listen and speak with compassion, kindness, and awareness. Often when people communicate, people don’t listen or think before they speak. Mindful communication requires you to listen mindfully and speak mindfully.

How to listen to others mindfully

Clear your mind

When someone is talking to you, try to clear your mind of any thoughts, or judgements about them or what they are saying. It’s not easy but you might learn much more from the other person.

Be attentive

People are likely to feel more comfortable telling you things if you’re attentive, as they will feel like they can be themselves and open up to you.

Make eye contact

Don’t look away or at something else, make eye contact because it shows that you care about what the other person is saying to you.

Put yourself in the other person’s shoes

People tend to see things based on what they perceive about the world. Try to see something from the perspective of the person you’re talking to. You might disagree with their opinion, but that’s okay.

Don’t assume what people mean

If someone says something that you don’t understand, ask them to elaborate on what they just said, and do so with compassion. Communication between two people is often muddled because they have misunderstood each other.

How to speak to others mindfully

Think before you speak

When someone asks you a question, don’t just start talking for the sake of talking. Take time to think about your response and what you say is much more likely to be well received and meaningful.

Choose your words carefully

Insulting or painful words aimed at another person can really damage a professional or personal relationship. Even if something makes sense to you, someone else might just not get it. Be sure to think carefully about your choice of words.

Be true to who you are

Sometimes when we speak to someone, we want to portray a certain image of ourselves. We might end up trying to be something we’re not, which is not the best way to communicate meaningfully with someone. Be true to who you are, and always speak with compassion and kindness.

Say what you mean and mean what you say

This applies to a business or a personal relationship. If you say to someone that you’ll call them, do exactly that, and you’ll get a lot more respect from the other person.

Everyone likes to feel listened to and understood, and communicating mindfully is a great way to make sure that happens, in all of your interactions.

Maureen O’Callaghan is a Member of the Chartered Management Institute, and has an MSc in Mindfulness-Based Approaches. She works with organisations, teams, and individuals to create less stressful working environments, improve team working, enhance performance and productivity and develop leadership and management skills.