We frequently consider how we may improve our relationships by modifying what we say to others. We pay less attention to the notion that we have the ability to influence what we hear. The second half of the communication equation is listening.
We converse while others listen, and converse while others speak. Except when we don’t listen. Mindful listening is more difficult than you might assume.
What is Listen Mindfully?
The discipline of paying attention and remaining open to the present moment is known as mindfulness. Mindful listening entails being fully present when interacting with others rather than thinking about your to-do list while your colleague is sharing about her weekend, planning your dinner while your partner is telling you about his/her day, or sending emails while talking on the phone with your mother.
Listening is a socio-cognitive action that is influenced by our past experiences and our expectations for the future. When our brain is on auto-pilot, we pay more attention to people who have power over our future (for example, our possible new boss at an interview) than to those we will likely never meet again. We also filter what we hear based on what has previously been important to listen for. We may concentrate on what our interviewer says about flex time because we left our last employment owing to scheduling inflexibility.
Knowing what influences what we listen for and who we listen to can help us modify our listening habits. We can listen using all five senses audibly, nonverbally, and relationally. We listen relationally by reading between the lines depending on our prior knowledge of the relationship and our discussion partner. When we do this, we may have better conversations with people. We can also form quality relationships with others and strengthen the ones we already have.
Mindful listening necessitates understanding what the other person is saying. Then we need to let them know we’re listening and considering what they’ve said. We accomplish this by maintaining eye contact, nodding, and smiling, and encouraging them to communicate their opinions. We become emotionally invested in their message, and it shows.
See also: 5 Tips To Improve Your Mindful Listening
When we are not fully present when speaking with others, we are engaging in unmindful listening. This can happen when we are focused with a future activity, reminiscing about a prior incident, or thinking about what we will say next. When we listen unconsciously, we may hear what another person is saying, but we are not fully paying to the content, tone, and aim of the communication.
Mindful listening, on the other hand, is paying complete attention to what we hear with our ears rather than our thoughts. When connecting with others, mindful listening allows us to be fully present.