One of the most important relationship skills is the ability to listen mindfully, According to Jon Kabat Zinn, this means to pay attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and without judgement, Listening to another person in this way can be a challenge, but it can make a difference.
Listening With Focused Attention
Communication expert Rebecca Shafir says the average person can remember only 25 percent of what someone has said, just a few minutes after a conversation. The goal of mindful listening is to silence the internal noise of your own thoughts, so that you can hear the whole message, and so that the speaker feels understood. Focus on the person’s words and not on how you are going to respond. Don’t think of how late you are going to be, or your grocery list, or how worried you are about something. Do you understand what the person is saying? Are you making assumptions?
Focusing your attention means to ask questions if you’re not sure what the other person is saying. So set your intention to listen mindfully.
Elaine Smookler suggests the following steps for listening mindfully.
How to Practice Mindful Listening: HEAR
- Halt — Halt whatever you are doing and offer your full attention.
- Enjoy — Enjoy a breath as you choose to receive whatever is being communicated to you—wanted or unwanted.
- Ask— Ask yourself if you really know what they mean and if you don’t, ask for clarification. Instead of making assumptions, bring openness and curiosity to the interaction. You might be surprised at what you discover.
- Reflect — Reflect back to them what you heard. This tells them that you were really listening.