Have you ever been mid conversation only to realize that the person you’re talking to isn’t paying attention and their mind is elsewhere?
I don’t know about you, but for me this is not a good feeling. As humans we want to be heard. Especially when we’re talking to someone we love.
Last week I touched on incorporating mindfulness into our daily lives through Eating Mindfully. Today let’s talk about being mindful through listening. Mindful Listening.
From the time we are born we are listening. Taking in the sounds around us – the sound of our parents’ voices – learning how to talk. Fast forward to the time we are in school – having conversations with teachers, friends and family every single day of our life from then on.
Through these conversations we listen and then respond. However, if we don’t accurately listen (or listen at all) we can miss an important piece of the conversation or even worse – give a response that is not appropriate to the conversation at all.
When this happens it can cause problems with our loved ones because they feel that they are not being respected or heard. Which in reality – in cases like this they’re really aren’t.
The way to resurrect this is through the practice of Mindful Listening. With this practice not only will you learn how to listen more thoughtfully to others – but those who you are speaking to will notice that you are actually listening to them. This will make you stand out in the crowd.
FREE Mindfulness Guide
Attention & Concentration
While having a conversation it is always best to give the person you are conversing with your full undivided attention. Not only will this aide in your response to them but it will show that you are truly interested in the conversation. Sometimes this is easier said than done.
This is where concentration comes in. There will always be things to distract us going on. Put your phone on silent – close your laptop – put those horse blinders on and fully concentrate on the conversation.
During a conversation remember to breathe. While listening – take this time to enjoy your breath and fully absorb what is being communicated to you. Whether it is wanted or unwanted information – this is the time to stay centered during the conversation.
Often times we quickly take in what someone is saying to us and let our emotions take control. I’m guilty of this as well. Focusing on breathing during a conversation allows us to stay centered and respond in a more mindful manor. It keeps us from an unwanted snap reaction (link post) and could potentially save the conversation if it is heading south.
Don’t Be Afraid To Ask Questions
Always ask yourself if you are clear on what is being conveyed to you. Often times we assume we know what the other person is trying to say – when in reality we don’t. This especially happens now that we live in a world of iMessaging, texting and DMing.
Don’t be afraid to ask for clarity before responding. Bringing this sense of openness to a conversation will surprise you. This shows that you are actively listening and will speak wonders to the person you are having a conversation with.
Reflecting back what you took in while listening is the most important part of listening mindfully. This is what conveys that you were actually listening. To us as the listener this may feel like we are being repetitive – but don’t worry, you’re not.
Once it is your turn to respond in the conversation – repeat back what you just heard and then give your response. Showing that you are fully engaged in the conversation will in turn make the person you are conversing with want to do the same. It will also help you gain respect within the conversation and keep that person coming back for more.
Bringing empathy into a conversation is another great way to the best of your ability try to understand what is being conveyed. The reason I am talking about this point outside of the ones already listed is because this step is harder than others. Being realistic – some of us are empathetic and some of us are not.
With that being said – those of us that are empaths will naturally bring empathy into a conversation because we naturally feed off of emotions. For those of us that are not naturally empathetic this is where we can teach ourselves to be.
Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another. We may never fully understand the feelings of another but we can try our best. Thus showing that we are trying and being mindful while we listen.
Going back to the point of not being afraid to ask – empathy can come into play. If you are unsure, ask for clarity on the emotions that are being shown to you. BUT please be mindful of the situation and conversation before doing so. We do not want to ask for clarity on our empathy during certain situations like losing a loved one, etc.
In other situations though – asking is more than ok. It shows that you want to learn and to understand what someone is feeling or going through. This may even help them talk through their emotions because they may not even know that they are conveying their message this way. Bring that openness to the conversation and you will learn a lot about them – thus growing your relationship with them.
Mindful Listening is not a hard feat – it just involves listening and nothing else. Try your best not to pick and choose what you want to hear (we all do this in certain conversations) and be fully engaged in the conversation. The more mindful we are in a conversation, the more respect we will receive.
This practice can open so many doors for you as most people don’t listen mindfully and are not fully engaged in the conversations they have. Allow yourself to stand out from the crowd and reap the benefits of connecting with others. You’d be surprised what you’ll learn along the way too.