Every day, I ask people around me (family, friends, business partners…) “how’s life”?
Most of them tell me “busy” (probably because they don’t want to say “stressful”).
Stress puts you in heightened emotional state. This damages your health, and impacts the way you interact with others. Just this week, how often did you jump to conclusions without listening to others’ opinions? Did you try to “make your point” as quickly as possible?
Such conversations – at home or in the office – send a strong message: “paying attention to what you have to tell me is not worth my time”.
This is no way to have meaningful interactions.
But could mindfulness be a game-changer in your communications?
The core foundation of mindfulness is to be aware of the present moment. It’s about giving your full attention to what’s happening around you, and inside you.
The best place to start is to listen. Are you always engaged in your conversations? Do you really pay attention to what’s said, to your interlocutor’s intention?
Listening effectively will get you ready to absorb information, exchange ideas and create the collaborative space essential to meaningful interactions.
2. Do not judge
Our judgement interferes with many aspects of our lives. We all create a mental picture of what the people around us want – their hidden agenda – and quickly determine if they are a friend or a threat.
The truth is, others have enough to think about already (and certainly have no need to address the expectations you set on their behalf). So next time you’re about to talk to a good friend or meet someone to build a positive relation, approach her/him with an open mind.
We are all the unique product of our experiences, culture and beliefs. When you commit to absorb and learn from others’ perspectives, you can truly use mindfulness to build meaningful interactions.
3. Watch your emotions
Your emotional reality is not the same as the rest of the world.
Some conversations can be difficult. You may be irritated, frustrated…even angry at times. Whatever is annoying you, it can’t be solely due the person in front of you. It’s probably the context, the message, or how the conversation is going.
Just spending a few minutes each day on mindfulness can help you reach thoughtful conclusions, instead of rushed reactions. Don’t let your emotional reality dilute the message. Lead with a positive attitude. Meaningful interactions mean being hard on the topic, but gentle on people.
Space to create a decision.
We jump to conclusions very, very quickly. We can even force our point out of excitement.
These are not positive exchanges or meaningful interactions. What everyone wants is a powerful conversation that can help you build trust.
Mindfulness in conversations is about nurturing a positive exchange that will bring all parties to a space of collaborative decision. Give time to your interlocutors to collect thoughts. Ensure they can respond, not react. Ask questions that open up lateral thinking. Reframe positively. Use questions to coach as much as you can. Open up to possibilities, improvement and growth.
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5. Be patient
“For good ideas and true innovation, you need human interaction, conflict, argument, debate.” – Margaret Heffernan
Successful people know it takes time to get certain things. That’s why the best leaders practice patience extensively.
Instead of pushing hard on the basis of your frustration, why not shift your perspective?
Time can be your friend if you’re trying to land a strong message. If the conversation doesn’t result in what you expected at first, see it as an opportunity to go deeper into your ideas.
Maybe spending more time on the topic will give you the maturity to be more persuasive. Maybe a difficult conversation will bring a new perspective to light. Both can open the door to meaningful interaction with your partners.
6. Support with empathy
This goes for anyone in the office – whether junior or senior. If, in the course of a meeting or a conversation, you notice one of your colleagues is struggling (with a hard challenge, or people not listening…) come to the rescue.
Reframe if you can. Add an idea your colleague can expand on. If you have the seniority to do so, soften your interlocutor, bring a contextual element back in. Make sure the outcome remains positive for all.
As Achievers state, mindfulness at work is a win-win for all.
“A company that fosters a culture of mindful employees leads to a team that is recognising, communicating and celebrating the accomplishments that make the organisation successful.”
Whether you’re after meaningful interactions or trying to make “happy at work” possible, applying mindfulness principles is a great way to anchor you down into reality.
Mindfulness will train you to focus on the here and the now. By being fully present, you create space for better listening and improve cooperation. You increase the quality of your engagement with others. You build resilience in your team.
But mindfulness has more to offer. It’s no secret that empathy and emotional intelligence are strong elements of positive leadership.
Being aware of what’s happening internally will improve your response to your emotions. And this can help you to make one a meaningful contribution to society; helping people talk to each other better.
How do you engage in mindfulness actions? Tell your story in the comments!