Mindful Communication: What It Means and Why You Might Consider Practicing It

Mindful communication refers to the practice of engaging in conscious and intentional communication with others. It involves being fully present and aware of both oneself and the other person during a conversation or interaction. Mindful communication aims to foster understanding, compassion, and connection by promoting clarity, active listening, and non-judgmental awareness.

So what does this really mean? Let’s dive into what this looks like and how you can start practicing mindful communication with the people in your life.

Presence is key. This means being fully with someone in the moment and giving your complete attention to the person with whom you’re communicating. Presence involves setting aside distractions and focusing completely on the conversation at hand. Active listening is also helpful alongside presence – so while someone is speaking, seek to understand what they are saying and acknowledge their feelings, needs, and experiences rather than thinking about ways to bring the conversation back to you. Staying present with someone is an internal experience. It is very much about what you are thinking – do your best to keep your mind from wandering to anything but what the person is saying.

Practice non-judgmental awareness. Cultivate a mindset of acceptance and openness, without jumping to conclusions or making assumptions. Try being aware of your own biases and judgments and consciously choosing to suspend them during the communication process. One rule of thumb I like to use: lean in with curiosity. Anytime you notice that you might have judgments about what someone is saying, see if you can shift that to being curious instead.

Empathy empathy empathy! Try doing this from a standpoint of genuine care. Approach the conversation with an intention of connection, then lean in with curiosity and compassion. Reflect back to the person some key points that they share and take some guesses as to what they might be feeling or needing. Empathy requires presence and active listening, so stay with the other person mentally, and seek to understand and connect with their emotions, experiences, and needs. Check out this post for a more thorough guide on how to empathize with someone.

Be clear and authentic. Mindful communication isn’t just about listening to another person. It is about sharing what is alive in you, too! Communicate with honesty, sincerity, and clarity as best as you can. Mindful communication requires expressing yourself in a way that is genuine and respectful, while also considering the impact of your words on others.

Practice emotional regulation. Try to be aware of your own emotions and regulate them effectively during communication. This might look like managing reactive responses, such as raising your voice or defensiveness when you are feeling frustrated or angry, and responding in a calm and composed manner. This does not mean you have to fake anything. You can still be authentic while regulating your emotions. Sometimes, when emotions are too much, and you don’t think you can respond with compassion and kindness, politely communicate that you need some time away from the conversation, and return back to it after you have done some processing. When you do return, you can share what is/was alive in you without using blame, judgement, or a register that might be uncomfortable for someone to receive. This is not always easy, and it takes a lot of practice. Be gentle with yourself and remember that your overall intention for the conversation is connection.

Be mindful about your speech. Pay attention to the words you use, their tone, and their impact on the listener. Mindful communication encourages using language that is inclusive, nonviolent, and conducive to creating a connecting and harmonious atmosphere.

Okay, now I realize it is one thing to read this and intellectually understand what mindful communication is, but it is a totally separate thing to actually do this in real life. Practicing mindful communication with others takes quite a bit of mental and emotional energy sometimes, and it is not always easy, especially at first. The Bigbie Method offers not only education on this stuff, but also guidance from trained facilitators, opportunities to practice in an emotionally safe, low-risk environment, and accountability to keep you in integrity with your practice. If you’re interested in any of that, click here to learn more.

If it requires so much work, why bother? What is the point? Well, there are several reasons to consider practicing a more mindful and nonviolent style of communication.

  • Improved relationships
  • Enhanced listening skills
  • Conflict resolution
  • Reduced misunderstandings
  • Increased emotional intelligence
  • Stress reduction
  • Improved decision-making
  • Personal growth

Some of these may seem like no-brainers. It probably isn’t a surprise that relationships tend to improve when you pay attention to someone, show them empathy and compassion, and speak to them with respect. But it may not be obvious that mindful communication allows for more intentional and thoughtful decision-making. By considering various perspectives, listening to different viewpoints, and engaging in open dialogue, you can make more informed choices and reach better outcomes.

Again, all of this is done with the intention of connection – with other and even with self – and when that happens, I truly believe one’s quality of life increases.