For our third Mindful Challenge, we are going to tackle what is at the heart of conversation - the art of listening.
'Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.' - Stephen R. Covey
Does that ring true for you? It wasn't something that I had thought too much about until I read that quote a while ago and I sadly realized how guilty I am of doing that and how detrimental it can be to my relationships.
Some signs that you are not mindfully listening include finishing someone's sentences, interrupting someone while they are talking, or thinking about what you are going to say next. Sound familiar? Sadly, the people we do this most with are the people we are closest to.
So, how do we practice mindful listening? Well, first of all, the more we weave mindfulness into our daily lives the easier it will become to bring it into practice when we are in conversation. It really comes down to being present and attentive. Try to repeat things back to the speaker to acknowledge that you are really listening and to show understanding, or ask questions if you need clarification.
One tool that can help shift focus from the self to the other is to cultivate empathy. When you express empathy you are showing that you truly understand what the other person is going through and you are connecting with them on a deeper emotional level. The bonding that can come from empathy can be profound. Dr. Brené Brown has a wonderful video (below) that explains the difference between sympathy and empathy, and she lists the four qualities of empathy: perspective taking, staying out of judgement, recognizing emotion in other people, and feeling with people.
So, for our third Mindful Challenge, we challenge you to be fully present in three conversations tomorrow. Without mentally wandering, without problem solving or trying to chime in or judge, can you just be? Listen? Offer presence in its fullest form? We can't wait to hear about how it goes!
With Love and Gratitude,
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