Communicating Better with Mindfulness

Most of our happiness in life is, in some way, connected to our relationships. Relationships are built on communication. The main way we interact and connect with each other in our community, at work, in our family, and in other personal relationships, is through communication. Yet, most of us haven’t formally learned how to communicate in school or through a class.

How do we learn how to communicate?

So how do we learn how to communicate?

Most of us learn how by observing our family and society. We then and conclude that the lessons that they indirectly or directly teaching us about communication are true.

Unfortunately, often, these lessons that we are taught are often not good ones.

Think about what we learn from the politicians, our school teachers, our movies and popular culture about communication.

Some examples of the not so healthy lessons you may have learned in your family that influence the way you communicate may be those that drive you to:

  • Judge and criticize other people
  • Communicate or not communicate difficult feelings such as anger
  • Judge and criticize yourself through the voice in your head (based on what you learn about who you should be)
  • Defend yourself or not defend yourself when others ” attack you”
  • Feel you have to win arguments or perceive discussions as arguments or not take part in arguments at all
  • Keep silent and not “make trouble”
  • Listen closely  or not listen when others are talking ( sometimes depending on who they are)

Most of my clients, when they begin to  intentionally explore the patterns of communication they learned from their families and society decide they will reject these patterns and work on learning new ones.

This is good news, because it is possible to learn new habits  of communication, and improve your current relationships.

Patterns of behavior you can learn that will help you in healthier  communication patterns include

1. Practicing mindfulness so :

  • the other person feels heard
  • you can step back, observe and choose your reaction
  • you feel more grounded and less pressured to quickly respond
  • you are caring for yourself and being assertive

2. Practicing  curiosity and the intention of always trying to seek to understand the other in conversation rather than preparing your side of the argument or rebuttal

3. Practice being aware of your own intentions. Why are you saying what you are saying? Are you scared, angry ,hurt, or defensive? What is causing you to feel this way? Can you communicate with another intention?

6. Practice watching the words you choose. Words can heal and soothe or can harm tremendously. They can be interpreted in many different ways. Choose your words to be supportive and kind whenever possible. Speak with clarity and leave little room for misinterpretation. When time allows, ask if your words are understood or if the listener needs clarification.  When interpreting others words, always give them the benefit of the doubt.

7. Do not use texting or email for important communication  misunderstandings are too common.

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