In our always on always connected world we think we are communicating more effectively and yet we are not. We are easily distracted and our attention control is becoming worse.
A study conducted by Microsoft discovered that our attention spans are now less than 8 seconds – less than a goldfish. Everywhere we look we can see people hunched over and glued to their mobile devices. Even in the midst of conversing, our attention is focused on something else and not on the conversation at hand. One study from the Mindful Leadership Institute found that 70% of leaders report regularly unable to be attentive in meetings. Generous listening and communication skills are fast becoming lost skills.
Communicating is a 2 way process and it starts with generous listening. Generous listening is defined as giving someone the full gift of attention. Too often we are busy contemplating and formulating a response to someone way before they are finished making their point. Howard Beckman and Melissa Mooney et al studied how effective primary care physicians were at communicating. They found that after Mindfulness communication skills were taught and put into practice the physician’s ability to remain focused and listen to their patients increased resulting in a better diagnosis.
Effective communication also relies on the skill to become aware of how the other person may feel about a particular conversation. Being more aware of our own emotions allows us to be more empathetic to others. This skill then fosters the ability to better meet the other person’s needs by way of tactful usage of words that would better address concerns and issues in a compassionate manner. In addition we may often hide from having difficult conversations when we feel uncomfortable thus removing our ability to communicate at all. Being in-tune with our emotions and the emotions of others, allows us to build greater self-awareness and this in turn results in better emotional regulation skills. Our emotions drive our decisions and actions so knowing how we feel at any given moment and being Mindful of the underlying story allows us the ability to move past limiting beliefs and fears and move forward in a positive direction.
There are a number of Mindful practices that can be taught to employees in order to increase communication skills. Attention control and developing the skill to wait before responding are examples. Increasing empathy and compassion skills also allows us to communicate without escalating a potential negative situation. The great news is these skills can all be trained. With a little practice and insight they can become a permanent part of your approach towards interacting with others.
Let us help you roll out your Mindfulness strategy to help improve your communication levels.