By: Destiny Johnson
Have you ever spoken to someone, and kept getting interrupted? Trying to get a word in at times can be quite challenging in conversations when mindful talking isn’t used. This happens from time to time when speaking with acquaintances, family, and friends. It can also take place in the workplace with colleagues and clients.
Many of us have heard of active listening but what about the art of mindful talking when engaging in dialogues with people. What is mindful talking or speaking? It is one’s ability to speak to others with awareness, active listening, and focus. Mindful talking is knowing what, when, and how to use tone to engage with someone. Mindful communication involves listening, tone, nonverbal cues, paying attention, and connecting to others.
Speaking mindfully is a great skill to incorporate into any conversation. Mindful speaking encourages emotional intelligence. Imagine speaking and not being allowed the space and respect to respond. Or not having the opportunity to share your thoughts and opinions. It would be like you were trapped in a one-sided conversation. Do you think you would feel heard? Do you think the other person who is not receiving mindful talking would feel heard?
If there is no space to share and respond it cannot be a dialogue. If this type of communication continues it can become incredibly annoying and frustrating. Ultimately, the lack of care, consideration, kindness, empathy, and attention to the other person when having dialogue will eventually drain the relationship and decrease communication.
Here are some tips to increase Mindful Talking in conversations:
Realize how much time and space you take up while speaking. If you have an hour to dialogue with someone, how much of that time is spent with you talking versus them. How you listened to what is being share verbally and non-verbally? Ask yourself does this need to be said, have I listened enough before responding
Use Silence and Pauses
Make sure you take pauses; it will allow the listener to process what’s being shared. Not everyone processes the same way. For example, introverts tend to process inward using thought while many extraverts process outwardly using speech. Both are valid but pause to allow for communication to flow. The use of silence can also allow you to be intentional with words and consider how much talking has taken place versus how much listening
Probe and Seek Clarity
Ask questions to better understand before speaking. Ask questions to gain perspective from others. Many times during conversations messages can get lost, contributing to lack of understanding and miscommunication. Seek to understand instead of talking. When you listen intently it will help you know what to say
Here and Now
Be present and in tune to the moment happening in front of you. Many people get lost in thoughts of yesterday (the past) or tomorrow (the future) that we forget about the present moment. This can occur when talking. Try to focus on what is tangible in the conversation and connect with the persons words and feelings. Use breathing to bring you back to the conversation if your mind begins to wonder while talking to someone. Focus on your breath and what they are saying.
Check in with yourself and your surroundings. Identify how the person you’re talking to is doing. You can pick up on cues that indicate if the listener is checking out and vice versa if you have lost your focus. Checking in with yourself, can be done by quietly recognizing what is happening internally or around you. Are you following the conversation? Is the person distracted? Have they disconnected? Are you not responding to questions because you have zoned out?
To build awareness and focus you can use open posture. Posture your body toward the listener with arms uncrossed, lean in physically to the conversation, and provide eye contact. This will help you stay alert and welcome dialogue. It is important to limit distractions and refocus your thoughts to the speaker. Use verbal encouragers like yes, uh huh and ask questions to understand and connect.
Showing curiosity can strengthen dialogue and unfold an engaging conversation. Begin practicing intentional and mindful speech because it is important to feel heard. Try out some of these tips and see if your conversations and connections can be deepened.
Destiny Johnson is a career counselor and certified anger management counselor with Avedian Counseling Center.