In the 21st century it’s easy to get distracted when engaging with others. We have phones, tablets, and other devices to distract us from being ‘present’ when communicating – mindful listening is easy to do and too easy to overlook.
Have you noticed that you appreciate those friends, co-workers or family members who DON’T constantly check their phone when conversing with you? It’s difficult talking with someone who is engaged with something or someone else!
Practising mindful listening is a habit that will not only benefit you, but also your relationships.
Ways we can practise mindful listening:
Focus on what the other person is saying. This sounds simple, but can be quite challenging. Many of us tend to think of what we’re going to say while the other person is talking. If you find yourself doing this, redirect your thinking back to the person’s words. Chew on them. Think of your mouth as being full–it’s basic etiquette to not talk with your mouth full!
Be aware and observe the person as they talk. Look at their movements, facial expressions, gestures. Listen for voice tone and volume. This is an important part of language and communication–and just as informative as words.
Pause before you speak. When you are ready to respond with encouragement or further the conversation with your own thoughts, take your time. You don’t need to speak straight away. After you’re finished “chewing” on the other person’s thoughts, let them digest. You want to prepare your words with care before you utter them.
Put yourself in their shoes. A mindful listener is able to empathise. Redirect your thoughts back to the person speaking. Focus, spend time thinking about their experiences, their emotions. Be receptive, open-minded and open-hearted. Instead of interrupting, or finishing their sentence, let them finish their own thoughts.
The act of mindful listening is one of the greatest investments you can make in others, and yourself.