EY Mindful Communication
Mindful communication is important for creating peace with yourself, creating harmonious relationships, and empowering you to live the life of your dreams. Mindful communication includes speaking kindly and consciously to others as well as your own self, listening to others as well as your own self and maintaining times of silence.
You can shift from a unconscious style of communication to a mindful and conscious style of communication by using I statements and taking responsibility for your feelings, listening attentively to others, using eye contact, avoiding interrupting when others are speaking, not making assumptions and avoiding negative communications like criticizing, fault finding and blaming.
Say and think only that which you wish to create
Engage in communications to bring love and connection
The Golden Rule, taught by Jesus Christ
“In everything, do unto other’s what you would have them do to you”
“Do unto others as you would have others do unto you”
This has us avoid the disempowering idea of hurt for hurt or believing two wrongs make a right.
T- Is it True?
H-Is it Helpful?
I-Is it Inspiring?
N-Is it Necessary?
K- Is it Kind?
A few basic tips to develop more mindful communication
Distinction: Reaction vs Response
Reaction; Unconscious, lacking thoughtfulness, gut reactions, defensive, snap judgments
When we become reactive we make quick, raw, unfiltered decisions because reactive energy is urgent, angry at times, acting on emotions and not thinking things through causing more harm than good. When under pressure reactive people can offend others, lose their temper and disrespect others time and energy.
Response; Conscious, thoughtful, well planned, responsive, think things through
Responsive people keep their cool even when things go wrong and become stressful. They have the ability to listen and hear others and formulate a careful well thought out response. Responsive people have a filter that incudes their value system, reasoning and respect. Responsive behavior takes other’s needs in mind and inspire others.
When we practice responding rather than reacting, this alone allows us to be more mindful of our communication. When we can focus on communicating for increased love and connection, we can allow this to motivate and direct how we respond to ourselves and other’s.
A Mindful Communicator is a Good Listener
Positive Listening Skills; Giving your alert attention, fully present, using eye contact, being undistracted, talk less, keep an open mind, nod approvingly, turn to face the person speaking.
A good listener will pay attention to the person who is speaking and give them their full attention. Give them eye contact, use their body language to face them and keep their body and mind open to them. A good listener is considerate and will give their full attention to whomever is speaking. They listen to help the person feel good about themselves. Good listeners wait for a pause before they speak their turn and speak to understand and clarify what the other is sharing. Good listeners will pay attention to body language and non-verbal ques like tone of voice in order to understand and allow the person to be heard.
What to avoid; Interrupting, being distracted, looking away, inattentive, imposing your solutions
Interrupting is the opposite of listening, it sends a message to the person speaking that what they are sharing is not important. That what they have to say is more important than what the other has to share. They are not showing respect or care for the other person and what they wish to share. They send a signal that their time is not worth while.
Patanjali & Communication
1. Ahimsa; Non-Violence
By following morality and the yoga philosophy of Patanjali’s 8 fold path we honor the 1st yama in mindful communication. We practice peaceful, non-violent communication at all times and with all beings.
2. Satya; Truthfulness
In all our communications it is important to be truthful, that is an ethical and moral standard of right communication. However, we don’t always need to speak every truth we believe, especially if we know it is not necessary and that it will cause harm.
Satya encourages us to speak truthful words that benefit all involved and are spoken with great care not to harm. Even if something is true satya encourages us to contemplate if it will serve a good purpose in speaking it. “One should not tell the truth unkindly”
3. Asteya; Non-Stealing
Patanjali’s Yama Asteya is non-stealing and although it refers to not taking what is not yours, material or intellectual property or credit. This yama also includes not stealing time by being late or over talking.
Over talking and interrupting are ways to avoid reciprocal conversation and is a form of stealing. In mindful communication it is important to be aware of and conscious of our conversations and to create reciprocal balance in speaking and listening.
4. Brahmacharya; Restraint
Although Patanjali refers to sensual and sexual restraint, we can also refrain from criticism, judgments, and communicating hurtful messages to our selves and others. Restrain yourself from reacting impulsively, acting out your anger or hurt by saying things you may regret later and that can damage a good relationship. Be mindful in what you say and how it will affect others even when you are highly triggered and upset. This is the work of a mature and responsible yogi.
5. Aparigraha; Non-Possesiveness
When we apply this yama to communication it can look like communicating to share rather than to look good, gain approval or rewards. To share ideas with others not as if you own those ideas, yet rather as possibilities from the cosmos, from thought spheres or cultural conditioning. Also, hogging the conversation without sharing the time by creating reciprocity that allows others to speak as well yourself. Also, avoiding being demanding of others in our communications.
The Fith Niyama
Ishvara Pranidhana; Surrender to The Divine
We include this Niyama, complete surrender to the God of our understanding, where everything we do is for the sake of our Divine. When we communicate as our service, mindful, thoughtful, patient and present. Speaking only as we are guided to speak and communicating by sharing Divine love through our eyes, body language and words of affirmation. Honoring silence and listening to others and especially listening to the God of our understanding. Communicating to serve Divine Will only.
Practicing Clean Communication
Clean communication means taking responsibility for what you say and how it impacts others. It includes being honest rather than lying or twisting things and complete in your communications rather than leaving pertinent information out. Being compassionate and supportive with the intention of creating connection rather than being defensive and creating distance.
Practicing clean communication will always help rather than hurt, resolve rather than reject.
The Ten Commandments of Clean Communication
1. Avoid Judgments and Snarky Comments
No one likes to be judged or made wrong, it hurts the self esteem and relationship.
2. Avoid Demeaning Labels
“Stupid” “Jerk” “Sexist” “Lazy” “Mean” Derogatory labels are personal and attack the person rather than the behavior. Derogatory labels make someone feel as if they are bad, and worse, a label makes you feel bad always. Labels will destroy trust and create distance rather than closeness and connection. Please avoid labels in communication unless you want to share a loving and kind label.
3. Avoid Blame
Acquisitions, blame and shame are always negative and make people feel attacked. Sometimes when we are overly defensive we can blame and distance the person rather than create connection and love. This is when you avoid “You” statements when you are upset and shift to “I” statements. This way you are not blaming the other person, you are simply taking responsibility for how you feel.
Also, it is not helpful to blame as generalizations, for example, “You are always late” or “You never help me when I need it” If we are very honest with ourself generalized statements are not true.
You Statement; “You are always late”
I Statement; “When you are late I am sad we missed time together”
You Statement; “You never help me when I need it”
I Statement; “I get overwhelmed when I need to do all the work alone”
4. Let Go of Past Hurts
The past is gone and when you bring it up in communication to make someone feel bad it never serves, it only separates and creates more hurt and more distance. If there are things that are unresolved from the past find empowered ways by using “I” statements and sharing how you feel rather than drudging up things that happened long ago or even days ago to defend yourself and make the other wrong. Often drudging up the past is done to make a good case that you are right and the other is wrong, this is avoiding being responsible for your part and shuts you off from the love and connection you ultimately desire.
Use your communication to create love and connection moving forward from the present.
5. Avoid negative Comparisons
A negative comparison always feels like an attack and never resolves anything. It also is never fair, because comparison is subjective. Negative comparison always feels like a put down and makes the receiver feel bad.
6. Avoid Threats
Threats send a message and makes the other feel bad and needs to be punished. “If you don’t take me to the play, I will find another handsome gentleman who will” “If you don’t do what I say I will not talk to you, I won’t be here anymore, etc.” Threats are always disempowering and intentionally hurtful. Be aware of what you say, even subtle threats that can be destructive to a relationship. Threats are childish and dwell in victim consciousness, avoid them at all costs.
7. Use feeling words to connect
Be clear about how you feel and take responsibility for your feelings. “I feel a desire to be closer” “I feel a need to have more connection” “I feel frustrated when there is no communication” “I feel unimportant when you are late” When you use the I statements and your feelings you gain a chance to connect deeper rather than attack and push away those you love and care about.
8. Receptive Body Language
An open and receptive body communicates connection and safety. Ways to practice open and receptive body language is to maintain eye contact, keep your arms uncrossed, your face relaxed with a gentle smile if possible, nod to show you are hearing what the other is saying, lean gently into the person speaking.
9. Use Whole Messages
Create your communications without judgement stating your thoughts as ideas rather than law, be clear about your feelings and needs.
State communications as neutral thoughts… begin statements with “I wondered if” “I suspect” “My sense is” “My idea is” this way you are neutral and open as your understanding rather than forcing your beliefs onto others as the one and only truth.
State feelings clearly and owning them responsibly… “I feel sad we missed the party”
Express your needs maturely and kindly. “I’d like to talk and plan our upcoming trip so I can arrange time off” “I would like to work out how we will share the chores in the home” “I would love to talk about doing something fun this week”
10 Use Clear Messages
Straight, powerful and clear communication is done without passive aggressive digs, without leaving important or pertinent things out, and without judgement or suppressed negative emotions. It is honest and complete leaving both parties feeling understood and honored. Be honest, open, vulnerable and speak with the intention to bring love and connection to the relationship.
Compassionate (Non-Violent) Communication
When we include compassion and empathy as our intention in all our communications we avoid blaming and criticizing. We are also able to hear a criticism without lashing back in defensiveness. We get our needs met far better by communicating compassionately as well as help other’s to get their needs met. Compassionate communication brings love and harmony to relationships for an overall happier and more peaceful life.
Compassionate communication invites us to pause before we speak in quick reaction. It invites us to look deeper to what is the underlying cause of the upsets. By pausing before we speak we can approach a situation with compassion and understanding rather than anger or reactive behavior.
When we bring our empathy and attention to others, they in turn become more open to give their empathy and attention to us and hear what we have to say and fulfil our needs.
Psychologist Marshall B. Rosenberg is the author of Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life. Rosenberg is credited for promoting the compassionate communication style we will explore below. His theory is that communication is an effort to get a core human need met. When we focus on helping one another get our needs met through compassion we act and communicate with loving kindness and are able to give and receive more openly and generously meeting our needs and other’s needs with far greater ease.
The four components to Rosenburg’s model invites us to respond with compassion rather than blame.
1. Practicing Observing Actions
Witnessing without judgment rather than judging other’s actions provides space to contemplate and avoid quick harsh reactive communications. It distances us from the triggers and allows us to back off and breathe giving opportunity to respond healthier.
2. Identify Your Feelings
Give yourself time to become aware of all that you are feeling, have empathy for yourself. Don’t blame yourself for what you are feeling, don’t blame the other… simply feel fully what is arising within you and rather than giving a general good or bad to your feelings be more specific… unsettled, unsafe, left out, unimportant, not good enough.
3. Explore how needs inform your feelings
When you experience an intense emotion arise take time to link it to a need, a need within you and a need within the other. For example, your partner or close friend participates in an activity and doesn’t invite you. You feel hurt and possibly angry and you begin to explore what is some of your needs that lay below the hurt. You sense into your need to be included, not left out, to be safe in the relationship, to share life with another. Then you contemplate what your partner or friend may be feeling. Maybe they are struggling to balance their life, or please too many other people, or feeling overwhelmed by life. Then contemplate or ask your partner what their needs are… they may need to feel a sense of freedom, or to spend time with a variety of friends, to not feel tied down, to be spontaneous. Take time to see your partner and friend as a human being with feelings and needs rather than trying to upset you. Maybe the situation calls for more understanding rather than blame. This can evolve you beyond just yourself, avoiding hurtful communication and choosing a more compassionate response.
4. Practice making specific, positive requests
You now have the opportunity to move from a disempowered way of being… blame and negativity to an empowered way of being… requesting what you want. Honestly and kindly make a request for what you want them to do to meet your needs. Be specific. Focus on what you want to create in the relationship, what you want to happen and invite the other to assist you in creating this.
Mindful Communication with the Self
Most important of all communications is to communicate with our own self mindfully, compassionately and kindly. It begins by being aware of the voice in our head, witnessing the conversations we have with ourself. We are often so used to our inner critic that we don’t even realize that voice is there.
“He is cheating on you” “You made a mistake… again” “You need to lose ten pounds before anyone will love you” Ask yourself when you hear that inner critic if you would ever say that to a friend? You probably wouldn’t say some of the things you tell yourself to even an enemy.
Give yourself a REALITY check and rather than blindly believing your inner critic day after day, question the thoughts it shovels out to you. How many times did you tell yourself he was with someone else just to discover he was working late or at the store… your voice lied. How many times has that voice in your head told you that you couldn’t do something and you actually did do it. How many people love you just the way you are, and do you think they would love you more or less just because of a few pounds.
The inner critic is a liar, rarely does it tell the truth. If a friend of yours told you multiple lies, would you continue to believe what they said? Your inner critic has been lying to you all your life… don’t believe any thought in your head that makes you feel bad. Only believe the thoughts that expand your love and connection to your own sacred Self and the world around you.
Be the softest place to land by making a commitment to yourself to speak mindfully and compassionately to your own sacred and precious self.
In conclusion I would like to remind you of what we spoke of at the beginning of this course
Key Mindful Communication Reminders:
Say and think only that which you wish to create
Engage in communications that bring love and connection only
Take time now to journal a loving message to yourself, full of gratitude and love for how wonderful you are. Praise and acknowledgement yourself for all your good qualities and how hard you try and how brave you are to simply take on this human life.