When was the last time you had a mindful conversation with someone?
Do you remember it?
How did you feel after the conversation?
What did you do immediately after you left that conversation?
What do you think about that person who you had that conversation with?
Do you wish you had more of those conversations?
What sparked that conversation to happen?
As humans, we thrive when we are connected with people. Not just on a surface level, but when you can be vulnerable and transparent with at least one person, it can set off a chain of reactions. Empathy, kindness, accountability, motivation, love, peace, and self-awareness are just some of the positive behaviors we can all gain.
In a high technology connected world, mindful conversations can seem almost inauthentic because social media has allowed us to carefully curate the lives we wish to display. And you may feel like you can never truly know someone, so why bother with your energy?
But social media cannot be the blame for our lack of connection. I believe we have gotten lazy and ignorant with how to engage in healthy relationships. That it’s almost easier to continue to live in our own bubble, post occasionally on social media that you are still alive, and then continue to go about your day.
But I want to encourage you in 2019 to engage in mindful conversations that feed the life you want to have. It is ok to let someone in. It is ok to not have your life together. And we should all be more open to sharing how we overcame obstacles because you never know who needs to be inspired by your story.
Here are a few tips to start your quest for mindful conversations that provide nourishment for your soul.
1. Put away your devices
Yes we are all busy. But take 2 minutes in your car or before you walk in to set your mood. Put your phone on vibrate or silent. Take off your apple watch or put on do not disturb mode. Skim through your emails to make sure you don’t have anything urgent coming up. And prepare yourself to fully present in the conversation.
Even when my phone is on vibrate, and I feel it, it can completely shift my focus away from the conversation I’m having. So I like to put my phone on silent and in my purse so even the light and notifications won’t trigger me to look at my phone.
2. Listen with your eyes.
Yes eye contact can be uncomfortable. But when you listen with your eyes, you connect with how the person is feeling in their heart. Like the popular saying “eyes are the window to the soul.” Eyes don’t lie. We can all remember a time where we were talking to someone, and their eyes gave away how badly they wished to not be there at that moment with you.
Let the person know with your eyes, their words matter, that they are important to you, and where you are right now with them, is exactly where you wish to be.
3. Be aware of the external environment and how it can alter the depth of the conversation.
Culture, social norms, and religion dictate how many people feel they should interact with other people. Whether it’s age, sex, career status or race, the environment will dictate how a person approaches and receives the communication.
For example, if you go into a busy coffee shop and sit near high traffic areas, where people might overhear your private conversation or it causes you to repeat yourself a lot or not clearly hear the other person, the conversation may not flow like you both would want it to.
You might want to try a less popular coffee shop, or go during non-busy hours, or if it’s nice, sit outside. The more comfortable the both of you are, the better the conversation will flow.
4. Check your wandering thoughts
In order to have mindful conversations, you have to engage with your words and body language. That means saying no to thoughts that have nothing to do with the current conversation you are having. If you’re like me (Pisces stand up!), I can have a wild imagination and quickly lose focus on what is in front of me.
I know it can be hard to do (I’m guilty). But focus on the words being said and how you want the person to feel after they leave this conversation.
5. Immerse yourself in what they are saying, and avoid criticism, judgement, and defensiveness.
When someone is being vulnerable the last thing they need is your judgment. Your body language, tone, and eagerness to react (not respond), are all giveaways that you just stopped listening. Now you are preparing your rebuttal in your head, and possibly putting yourself on a pedestal because now you can’t relate and don’t wish to. You are now closed off, and now the other person changes the subject because they can feel the shift in your demeanor.
Remember you are not perfect either.
Hopefully this sparked some new ways for you to approach your conversations.
Try some of these tips out with your family, friends, co-workers and complete strangers. Even introverts like me who enjoy their alone time, find solace in mindful conversations.
It restores faith in humanity and can break down walls (literally and figuratively) built by hate, fear and pride that we think is protecting us.
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