How to Practice Mindful Communication at Work
Mindfulness practice is popular in yoga and meditation but it also applies in the workplace, specifically with mindful communication. Think about being more present, having greater clarity in conversation, and multitasking less. Be more thoughtful about the tone you use. Develop empathy and non-violent communication with your co-workers, customers, and suppliers.
What is Mindful Communication?
According to Sigma Assessment Systems, mindful communication practice applies the principles of mindfulness to the way we communicate with others. These principles include setting intentions, being present, deep listening, awareness, mindful approach, remaining open and non-judgmental, and relating to others with compassion.
1. Set Intentions
When the communication is set around an event, like a scheduled meeting or presentation, take the time to set your intentions for the conversation. I find it helpful to actually write these down or start a Word document with my intentions. This helps the difficult conversations go more smoothly and it reduces any anxiety I may have.
- You need to have a concerned conversation and mindful speech with an employee who is failing, making mistakes, etc. “My intentions are to help coach this employee to improve their performance. I will speak from the heart and be direct and respectful in my feedback. They will listen with an open mind and hear my intentions to help them.”
- You are presenting a controversial project or pitching a new, expensive project to a team of senior leaders. “My intentions are to be thoroughly prepared and give the decision makers all of the information they need to make the right decision. I will speak with confidence and greater clarity. They will come into the room ready to listen and seriously consider and, ideally, approve my pitch.”
- You are having a conversation with someone with whom you have an antagonistic relationship. “My intentions are to have a working and healthy relationship with this person. I will communicate calmly and they will participate in the conversation with no hostility.”
2. Be Fully Present
In this time of digital addiction and our compulsive need to check our phones, being fully present and active listening is a continuous challenge. It’s even more important when we communicate.
- Don’t multitask, put your phone down, especially in face-to-face meetings.
- When taking notes on a laptop, try to stay off of Slack and don’t check email.
- Look at people when you talk to them.
- Pay attention to your nonverbal communication as well. Especially on a video call, don’t forget you are still on camera.
- If you are an audience member in a presentation, give the presenter your full attention, take notes, and make eye contact.
- If you are working from home among pets, laundry, and kids doing school online, just try to do your best.
3. Remain Open and Non-Judgmental
A key point when I set my intentions is that everyone involved in these conversations remain open and non-judgmental. Even myself. When I go into a meeting to pitch a major new idea, I know that I have done my homework. I am prepared and, hopefully, I have thought through any issues. I still need to be open to any new ideas or criticisms that might help the project be more successful.
It’s especially important when collaborating, brainstorming, problem-solving, etc. As a manager, I want to encourage my team to connect the dots, be more strategic, and don’t just take orders. My team needs to believe I am open to new ideas. This applies to day-to-day difficult conversations as well as more formal meetings and planning times.
4. Relate with Compassion
It’s easy to get wrapped up in the fast pace of work and forget about the humans doing the work. It’s important to relate to our co-workers, customers, and vendors with some empathy, compassion, and thoughtfulness.
Your tone can still be assertive when driving your timelines but you can also express gratitude along the way. Emotional intelligence (EQ) is a real asset. It includes things like awareness of your moods and the moods of others and an understanding of people’s goals. All of these will help you be more mindful for effective communication and be able to relate with compassion.
Working with a company like HSI and offering your employees a full library of off-the-shelf content puts related training videos at your fingertips. Mindfulness practice in conversation is a category of training that will provide your learners with improved communication skills in the workplace and at home with their families.
- Active listening
- Nonverbal communication
- Emotional intelligence: developing empathy
- Growth mindset