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Words Matter: How to Practice Mindful Communication


How often do you really consider the words you choose when you interact with others? Human communication is essential for our survival, but we often lose sight of the nuances of talking, listening, and connecting.


Becoming a more mindful communicator can deepen your relationships and build trust with the people who matter most to you. Here's what you need to know.


Understanding Mindful Communication

Mindful communication refers to being in the present moment and staying attuned to others during a discussion. This practice balances both mindful listening and mindful speaking- both skills carry equal significance.


Mindful listening means closely paying attention when others talk. A mindful listener considers what's being said, but they also focus on nonverbal communication and recognize subtle shifts in body language, tone, pitch, and intent.


Consider the person you feel safest talking to in everyday life. Consider how they make you feel when they listen to you. Mindful listeners promote a sense of support, safety, and compassion. They make us feel important and like our needs genuinely matter.


When you engage in mindful speaking, you are conscious of what you say- and you strive to be selective in the words you choose. You recognize how your words carry meaning, and you don't take that feat lightly.


Consider some of the best speakers you know. What common themes do you notice? Gifted speakers fundamentally recognize that communicating is all about connecting. They understand universal human experiences. Regardless of the topic at hand, they convey high levels of self-awareness and emotional intelligence.


How to Become a More Mindful Communicator

Successful communication incorporates numerous simultaneous skills: active listening, a calm emotional state, and a non-judgmental demeanor. No matter how much you struggle to connect with others, anyone can take steps to build a more mindful communication practice.


Deepen Your Fascination for the Conversation

Many of us cruise through interpersonal communication on a quasi auto-pilot mode. We're there, but we're not really there. We might be smiling and nodding and saying the right thing, but there's an emotional disconnect.


Imagine if you could treat your next conversation as the most important conversation you'll ever have. Think about how fully present you'd be. Imagine the level of your mindful awareness of what the other person says or needs.


Of course, very few conversations in life can actually be that important. But there's something to be said about going in with the mentality that you absolutely need to pay attention.

Highlight Emotional Experiences In the Present Moment

As you listen to other people share their experiences, notice the depth of their feelings. Observe how open or engaged they present in their communication.


When they finish speaking, aim to validate the experiences you observed. These validating statements can sound like:

  • "That sounded so frustrating. It makes total sense that you feel hurt."

  • "I am so sorry that happened to you. I get why you feel discouraged."

  • "Thank you for sharing that with me."

  • I hear what you're saying, and I appreciate the feedback."

Challenge Your Biases and Judgments

Mindful communication doesn't mean you're entirely open-minded to everything someone tells you. But it does mean you're willing to develop an enhanced awareness of the misconceptions and biases that distort your perspectives.


Paying attention to others when they talk is probably harder than you realize. For example, let's say a friend tells you about the argument she recently had with her mother. She acknowledges feeling frustrated that her mother is so overbearing and won't respect basic boundaries around privacy.


Once she says this, you start thinking about your own relationship with your mother. Your mother is distant and aloof. She rarely makes the time for you, and when she does, she hardly shows an interest in your life. As your friend reveals more about her dynamic, you find yourself judging her for her situation. Doesn't she realize how lucky she is to have someone who genuinely cares about her?


Commit to a Daily Meditation Practice

Research shows that mindfulness meditation can strengthen your natural communication system and foster more empathy and compassion for others. Meditation reinforces the significance of living in the present moment. The more you do this, the more you practice mindful speech, mindful listening, and mindful connection- it's a true trifecta!


Meditation isn't about perfection- it's about intention. If formal meditation feels daunting, simply commit to increasing mindfulness in everyday life. For example, stick to engaging in a single task without any distractions. Or, when someone talks, give them your full attention, even if you find yourself feeling bored or restless.


Expand Your Interests and Knowledge

Communicating mindfully also means feeling confident in what you say. But if your life feels boring or mundane, those feelings might come out when you talk to others.


Instead, focus on how you can make your life feel more meaningful. That doesn't mean changing who you are or doing things that feel downright out of character for you.


Expanding your interests and knowledge starts with recognizing the importance of self-growth. We generally tend to gravitate toward people who have a zest for life. Similarly, we tend to pull away from people who present as pessimistic or stagnant.


So, think about the kinds of people who most interest you. How can you emulate their way of being in your own life?

Respect Boundaries

Effective communication also entails being mindful of someone's interpersonal boundaries. Sometimes, these boundaries are stated explicitly (please don't ask me about my brother- I don't want to talk about him). Other times, they are more covert (please be aware that I sometimes take a while in responding to a text message- don't keep asking if I'm ok).


When you pay careful attention to the relationships in your life, almost all boundaries become more obvious. And if you don't know, ask. Mindful awareness doesn't mean knowing how to read someone's mind. It does, however, mean paying attention to the details you have while getting clarity to fill in the rest.


Strengthening Mindful Communication in Mental Health Treatment

Communicating mindfully can help you feel more connected to the people who matter most to you. Likewise, effective communication supports you in setting boundaries.


At Mental Health Transitions, we focus on bringing awareness to thoughts, feelings, and actions. We believe that healthy relationships are the cornerstone of emotional well-being.


Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you or your loved one.

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