08 Nov Are we really listening?
You don’t have to be a genius to realize that most of our communication problems are, in their essence, caused by our difficulty to listen to each other authentically.
Most of us just listen to reply. We listen while we’re thinking about what we want to say next. We have an urgent need to voice our opinions and, in so doing, we aren’t actually listening to the other person, giving him/her our full attention while honouring their right to express themselves. As a result, more often than not, conflict arises and communication breaks down.
So, what’s necessary to be able to listen in an authentic way? The way I see it, one of the most important ingredients is mindfulness, which is defined as our ability to be present to what is arising with kindness and without judgement. This skill will enable us to be anchored in ourselves and pay attention to someone else at the same time, which will allow us to free ourselves from judgement and regulate our emotions. Almost all of the time, we face conversations with preconceptions, presuppositions or limiting beliefs, i.e., who we think the other person is, who we are, what we should do, etc. As a consequence, we are quick to react when conflict arises, we either feel the urge to defend ourselves or fight.
What mindfulness brings to our lives is the possibility to hold mindful dialogues and enrichen our experience with true connections. Mindful communication can be trained and the good news is everyone has the capacity to develop it. All it takes is our intention to be true to ourselves and to others, and honour our interconnectedness.
You can find more information about this topic in this blog post I wrote some months ago.