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Learning to communicate and listen empathically is vital to human interactions.
It is particularly important to building trusting relationships. It takes that those communicating can acknowledge the reciprocal give-and-take exchanged during their communication and enable mutual collaboration. A sense of connection can then be perceived and support the nurturing of the relationship over time. When these basics conditions are present, there a higher probability that the point of views of the parties present will be duly taken into account and that each one will start to reflect in their responses the point of view of the others.
When openness of mind and heart are present, the listener is NOT downloading past responses but first listen with a blank page in mind. Based on what will have actually been said, a response will be ‘created’. The result of this process is that the communication in terms of quality, intensity and timing of the other’s signals clearly reflect those we have sent.
The state of mind and heart that follows is a sense of identity and deep connectedness. We feel coherent between how we were before sending the signals and after having sent the signals. When we are understood we feel we are not alone in the world. This is key to create a strong sense of internal coherence.
With a mindful approach to communication, we can create a collaborative communication style, using the present moment to just be connected and avoid imposing our plans of the future. We can possibly allow the mutual collaboration that arises from listening to each other help shape the future as it emerges from the exchange of ideas, beyond what an isolated individual would ever be able to formulate by oneself.
The practice of mindful is instrumental in many ways to improve our communication. By helping us ground ourselves in the here and now, we gain an empty space where we can meet with others. In addition, we learn with the practice of mindfulness that we do not need to react to everything we are exposed to. This again contributes to enhance our listening skills and follow each words and signals sent without having to do anything else than being aware of them.
To communicate takes to receives both non-verbal and verbal signals. When we speak, in particular in the work context, we insist particularly much on the verbal signals. But to make sense of the verbal signals, we are all influenced by the decoding process of the non-verbal signals which is not a very conscious process. It happens regularly that we display gaps between our verbal signals and our non-verbal signals. This stem from our brain structure: the right hemisphere of one person communicates with the right hemisphere of the other person and uses non-verbal signals. The left hemisphere does the same when it comes to words. If both set of messages are not congruent, the communication will be unclear and confusing.
The key is to deepen our understanding that our sense of ‘I’ is deeply conditioned by our ability to connect to another person and to feel that we have manage to build a ‘we’. In the end of the day, it appears that mindful communication is twofold and amounts to be aware of: