Mindful Communication: Communicate with Intention
Recently, a coaching client came to a session asking about communicating better with their team. They had been told that they were often abrupt, controlling, and not interested in their team’s growth.
This is something I have heard from clients quite often over the years and their response when given feedback like the above is, understandably, defensive. However, it can be instructive if they are able to step back and look at the behavior they exhibit that is perceived as abrupt or controlling and then understanding where that might come from.
Many times we are controlling because we don’t trust the other person to “do it right” or we are judging them based on our preconceived notions of their capabilities. We might react from fear of what direction the conversation might go if we give up control. Mindful communication can lead to self-awareness, self-regulation, the ability to respond rather than react, and genuine connections.
So, how can you become more mindful when communicating at work or at home (yes, this works with your partner and your kids too!)?
It might be helpful to define mindfulness first. Mindfulness is:
Paying attention in a specific way to what you feel and to the world around you, without judgement.
Living in this exact moment and not dwelling on the past or worrying about the future.
Okay, so it’s a good idea but how exactly does it work? Mindful communication is something you practice before you get into a conversation that might be challenging for you. There are lots of ways to do this and you’ll need to find one that works for you. These methods can range from cultivating a meditation practice, taking a minute every day to notice how you are feeling in that moment and naming that feeling (there's a lot of power in being able to name what you feel), or even taking a few minutes several times a day to pay attention to your breathing.
When feeling challenged by an interaction here is a quick checklist of what you can do in the moment:
Pause - take a moment to gather your thoughts, whether it is right there or whether you need to remove yourself from the situation for a few minutes.
Breathe - your body is amazing and it will breathe for you without any work or thinking (luckily!) but take a few intentional breaths.
Be in the present moment - this can be as simple as connecting to your senses (what do you hear, see, smell, feel).
Observe with curiosity not judgment - being curious about why someone feels the way they do allows you to not only listen but to actually hear what the other person is saying.
Be intentional - speak and act with intention (you can even think something like "my intention is to speak with kindness" or other words that work for you).
Mindful communication can help you to move past judgment to curiosity. That curiosity is one way a leader can provide growth opportunities and autonomy to their teams – which leads to higher job satisfaction and higher retention. So, mindfulness isn't always practiced in a quiet room by yourself - it can have concrete business results through more effective communication.
If you're looking for support in adapting your communication style to be heard more clearly, I would be happy to work with you one-on-one. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org