How Being Mindful Helps You Be a Better Listener and Communicator

June 22, 2017

The mind is actually a poor listener by default because it is always thinking and is easily distracted. If you do not learn to focus your mind, you cannot be a good listener because you will be reacting and thinking while the other person is talking. Most of us hear, think and respond, rather than truly listen and connect. But there are amazing benefits of being a skilled listener. Mindful listening has the power to help us understand, connect and influence others at a deep level and build trust and respect in our relationships.

Here are three tips that can help you become a better listener and communicator:

  1. Add structure to your conversations. Structure helps the mind focus. You can add structure by setting up rules for yourself about what you will do when you are in conversation with others. For example: you can decide to listen and not interrupt. Or decide to resist the urge to respond right away and just be present, curious and ask questions to learn more about the person talking.  Use phrases like “Tell me more. What do you mean by that? How does that make you feel?   These phrases encourage the other person to open up and provide more information for you to understand them better and connect more deeply with them.
  2. Be clear in your mind about the purpose of the conversation and what you want to gain from being in the conversation. Are you meeting someone for the first time? Are you trying to influence their decision? Are you wanting to be listened to and heard? Are you wanting to be validated? Are you just passing time together having fun talking? Clarity helps guide your level of communication and determines how much talking you will do in the conversation.  If you don’t have this level of awareness and clarity, there won’t be balance in the conversation. One of you will end up doing most of the talking. Mindful listening helps you become an excellent communicator because you can easily respond to what people are actually saying and not be distracted by what you are thinking and feeling.   
  3. Be mindful of how you are feeling because this will influence your ability to focus and pay attention. If you are tired, hungry, or upset, it will be harder to focus and be present. Try to avoid having important conversations when you are not able to truly focus. The brain needs rest and nourishment to function properly.  One trick to help you focus even if you are tired or distracted, is to repeat the words being spoken simultaneously while the other person is speaking them. This is an amazing power of the brain. Your mind perceives much faster than you realize and so you can keep up with the words as they are flowing from their mouths. This gets easier with practice. The intention of repeating what is said helps you focus your mind and avoid distractions.

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