Mindful communication and its benefits
Mindfulness is simply being aware of what is happening in the present moment. Mindfulness is something that can be weaved by anyone in all facets of life. It can be weaved into two important ways of communication – speaking and listening.
The use of right speech is one of the precepts of the Buddhism. The fourth of the five precepts focuses on avoiding false speech of all kinds, with the positive counterpart of truthfulness. Subtler forms of truth-telling involve not distorting the truth by exaggeration, selection, or evasion.
Thich Nhat Hanh has elaborated on the precept as follows –
Aware of the suffering caused by unmindful speech and the inability to listen to others, I am committed to cultivating loving speech and deep listening in order to bring joy and happiness to others and relieve others of their suffering. Knowing that words can create happiness or suffering, I am determined to speak truthfully, with words that inspire self-confidence, joy and hope. I will not spread news that I do not know to be certain.
Mindful speaking -
Speech can be constructive or destructive. Mindful speaking can bring real happiness; unmindful speech can kill. When someone tells us something that makes us happy, that is the greatest gift he or she can give. Sometimes, someone says something to us that is so cruel and distressing that we want to go and commit suicide; we lose all hope, all our joie de vivre.
Mindful speaking involves choosing words very carefully before we speak out. We all know that use of right words can improve a relationship, whereas use of wrong words can break it up. It costs nothing to use kind words. The way we speak to others can offer them joy, happiness, self-confidence, hope, trust, and enlightenment. Mindful speaking is a deep practice. It has underlying sense of compassion.
Mindful speaker has the following characteristics -
- Mindful speaker uses voice that is pleasant and refreshing to hear and brings calm, comfort and healing to others.
- Mindful speaker relieves others of their suffering and suppressed feelings because it is the voice of someone, who understands others deeply -- their anguish, despair, and fear. When we feel understood, we suffer much less.
- Mindful speaker inherently has noble elements of love, compassion, joy and impartiality in it.
- Mindful speaker does not encourage wrong views and speculations but, in fact, such a person silences them whenever they crop up during communication.
- Mindful speaker does not aim at fame, profit or competitive edge and so such a person does not indulge in deception of any kind.
- He or she does not tell lies but speaks only truth. Such a person does not indulge in rumor mongering.
- Such a person may possess his or her own notions and concepts but he does not impose them on others. On the other hand, the person respects other’s notions and concepts.
- Such a person always remembers that much suffering is born out of unmindful speech.
Mindful listening –
To strengthen our communication skills, it is important to develop the skill of mindful listening. Poor listeners are frequently unable to separate their own needs and interests from others. Sometimes, real listening can be the most therapeutic thing we can give to others, who are in distress.
Mindful listening involves suspending self-oriented and reactive thinking. It requires awareness of the unknown and unexpected. Mindful listening is being sensitive to all facets of listening experience – external, internal and contextual.
Mindful listener has the following characteristics –
- Mindful listeners are open minded and genuinely interested in others. They allow themselves time and space to absorb what is being said.
- Mindful listeners do not interrupt and they don’t jump to the conclusions about what is being said.
- They don’t attend to the surface of the words but rather listen to what is between the lines.
- They encourage others to feel heard and to speak more openly and honestly.
- They know active listening that is a practice of repeating back or paraphrasing what they are hearing. They gently seek clarification when the meaning is not clear.
- Mindful listener is generous, empathic, supportive, accurate and trusting.
Benefits of mindful communication –
Since we are all social beings, interpersonal communication is absolutely inevitable. So, mindful communication enhances our communication skills. We are motivated by our beliefs, which further hinder our communication. Mindful communication requires self-control, objectivity, tolerance, flexibility, kindness, acceptance and compassion on the part of the persons involved in communication. So, all these positive traits underlying any communication will definitely affect it positively in many ways.
- It improves our relationships because we accept others unconditionally whether we agree with them or not. Since mindfulness entails an empathic attitude in the persons involved in a communication, the relationships are bound to improve.
- By mindful communication, we can develop friendships easily that will be more lasting and satisfying. Others will express more faith and trust in us.
- Such a communication will bring happiness and comfort to the others. It will give solace to them by relieving their sufferings, anguish, fear and despair.
- Mindful speaker never hurts others so whoever comes in contact with such a person will experience happiness. In fact, he or she will like to come closer to such a person.
- In mindful communication, a person does not jump to the conclusion in a particular situation but listens deeply to others understanding all pros and cons before reaching a decision. So, a mindful listener rarely takes a wrong decision.
- The person practicing mindful communication is always impartial in all matters, so such a communication ensures trustworthiness and dependability on persons involved in communication.
- Since the individual practicing mindful communication has compassion and empathy, he or she will give due attention to the viewpoint and perspective of others and so will be able to adjust easily with others.
- A mindful speaker doesn’t indulge in criticism, condemnation or slander and so such a person doesn’t create discord in others.
- The persons with mindful communication skills are successful in their career; they are more popular among colleagues at their workplace.
- If such a person owns an enterprise, the person is likely to succeed because of mindful communication skills. The person will be trustworthy in his business dealings with the clients.
The bottom line is that by the development of mindful communication, an individual can open all the doors to success and happiness. It is worth mentioning that any one can develop the skill of mindful speaking and listening.