Conversations are daily practices that we do, and many of them can change the course of our lives.
We use different skills and our entire body to communicate in each conversation. We communicate verbally and non-verbally. Many research studies suggest that non-verbal communication has more power than words.
Our bodies absorb the messages from the environment through an introspection system below our awareness. The body decodes these messages based on our previous experiences. This process is how each person understands the message from their own point of view, unique and different from others. Here is when our nervous system decides how to respond to the message.
The more we know ourselves and recognize our bodily sensations, the less we react and the more we respond in a conversation. The more we observe our conversation partners, the less we judge them. Self-awareness and observation with curiosity create more clarity. Clarity causes deeper communication. Deep and meaningful communications are vital for humans to make a purposeful life.
Here I break down a few key points that can add mindfulness and clarity to a conversation.
- Practicing attentive listening
- Only interrupting if we need to focus on something and the other person is off-topic. Most of the time, letting the other person talk helps a lot.
- Being curious to learn more from what we hear
- Asking for expansion of what they mean
- Being caring rather than judging
- Having and respecting a short pause, a deep breath.
- Having awareness of whether we are speaking our stream of consciousness or some well-thought-through concepts. When we announce we are thinking aloud, help the other party see our position in the conversation.
- Offering insight or asking powerful questions rather than giving advice.
- If we are asked for advice, indicating the source of our guidance will help, whether it is based on our knowledge or personal experience.
- Using our own words and repeat what we heard to ensure we are on the same page with the person we are conversing with. What I am hearing is [fill in the blank].
- Being mindful of the role of our inner critic and try to put them aside for the moment.
- Feeling I know better to give advice.
- Taking things personally (doubting our self-worth) and stopping attentive listening.
- Adding new empathizing words to our vocabulary
- Stopping when anger shows up in an unhealthy way, and a break is needed.
- Creating a balance between listening, sharing, and asking. This way, both sides feel better unless we are there to only listen.
- Focusing on the subject of the conversation.
- Avoiding using self-destructive phrases.
- Avoiding being flattering. Silence, a meaningful look, or a quick acknowledgment is much more helpful than empty words.
- Trying to empower ourselves and the other person.
- When it is time to communicate through talking, it’s always easier if we are approachable. We show that in our faces, eyes, and body posture.
- Body posture
- What is my body posture? How about the other person? Sitting straight? Or hunching down?
- When we use our hands in a fast manner, we usually convey a complex message. Being patient when the other person is trying hard brings closeness and trust.
- We mainly look up when we are thinking, using our cognitive intelligence and might forget our bodily sensations.
- A lot of the time, we avoid looking when we are uncomfortable or thinking hard.
- Do we know unique body gesture of our company? When anxious? When thinking? When relaxed?
- What emotions are rising in my body? Where do I send them? Can I change my posture?
- Can I ask what emotions the other person is feeling?
- When we are not confident, we send a subconscious message to the other person, changing the dynamics negatively. We might be able to remind ourselves to be optimistic.
- Tone of voice
- Our tone of voice can convey a different message when our words are not aligned with it. In having a request, confidence in our voice helps, or humbleness in our voice can bring out authenticity when apologizing.
- Environmental effects, including distractions or the environment’s mood, could make a conversation go south.
- Walking/ moving releases endorphins and can help the mood of the conversation.
A couple of tips:
- In many conversations for many people, having a request or expressing an opinion creates natural anxiety. We can practice grounding and self-soothing before and during the conversation. We can become stronger than our anxiety.
- Shaming someone for any reason creates a negative dynamic. It makes the other person either passive or impulsive. It impacts emotional regulation and becomes destructive.
Practice mindful conversation for four weeks and journal what you did and what you could do better (with no judgment, only accepted as a learning curve). Many things will come naturally after this practice.
Keep going. Keep pursuing your potential.
Photo by Alex Andrews on Pexels.com