One Tip for Enhanced Communication: Present-Moment Awareness
All of this effort to train yourself to recognize when you are not present and return to the here and now is most valuable when we use it during our interactions with others. The unpredictable nature of communicating with others provides many chances for the mind to wander away from the present moment.
- If we have just learned that someone has gotten engaged, we might begin reminiscing about a joyful time in our lives.
- If we are in disagreement with someone, we might become overwhelmed with defensiveness.
- If someone is telling you an upsetting story, you might let your mind wander as a way to protect yourself from feeling sad emotions.
- Sometimes, we just have so much going on that we are not capable of being fully present for another person.
If you are skilled in recognizing that you are not present, there are several options available to you:
- First, you can take a breath and return your attention to the speaker. Use body language such as eye contact, leaning forward, nodding, etc. to reinforce your listening.
- You could acknowledge the emotions that are present for you (aloud or internally) and refocus your attention. “I am just so excited for you and I started thinking about my own wedding day! What’s the last thing you said?”
- You could share that you have lots of thoughts about the topic and ask for a moment to gather your thoughts. “You have given me a lot to think about and I would like a moment to organize my thoughts so we can come to an agreement on this issue.”
- You can ask to revisit the conversation at a later time. “Thank you for sharing this concern with me. I want to take some time to reflect before responding. Can we talk tomorrow morning?”
As you become more skilled at recognizing how your emotions play a role in your communication, you can respond in a more authentic manner.
Present-moment awareness is also critical in becoming an effective listener. In conversation with others, instead of listening we sometimes spend time:
- Planning how we want to respond
- Judging what is being said
- Predicting with the speaker will say next
- Responding to the emotions that arise
Practicing present-moment awareness won’t prevent all instances of distractedness. However, it can help us identify our intentions and communicate clearly. Rather than responding with defensiveness or justifying our actions, we can be present with the concern that has been brought to our attention. We can hear the other person, choose our words, ask questions to gain more information, and work to create solutions. Often, these options are not available to us when we are sidetracked by strong emotions.
Present-moment awareness will also allow you to actually use the many communication strategies that you have learned over the years. It will provide the mental space for you to access your skills because your mind will be clear of those pesky thoughts and emotions that often cloud effective communication.
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For the article Building Present-Moment Awareness, CLICK HERE
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