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There’s a lot of noise buzzing around us--but how much of it do we actually take in? This week’s Mindful post is about purposeful listening--so listen up!
The first step to listening mindfully is actually to turn down the volume of the world around you because it’s hard to retain information when we are distracted. Have you ever tried to talk on the phone while someone else was trying to talk to you (*cough* kids *cough*)?
If so, you know how hard it is to split your attention between two competing interests. In order to practice mindful listening, try to put down your phone, close your computer, or move to a quiet location. If none of this works, try to reschedule the conversation.
How To Be A Good Listener:
Once you have an environment that has minimal distractions, the next step is to focus on what the other person is saying. Forbes’ “10 Steps to Effective Listening” include looking at the speaker (but don’t stare!), trying to paint a picture of what the speaker is saying so that it means something to you, and trying to summarize what you heard at the end of the conversation.
A final thing to remember when listening mindfully is to practice empathy. Holding space for other people’s feelings and reactions enables us to step outside of our own heads and learn from other people. Mindtools suggests acknowledging a speaker’s opinion and validate their perspective, even (or perhaps especially) if you don’t necessarily agree.
Katie has a PhD in rhetoric and teaches professional writing. Her mindful practice includes baking, reading, and talking about TV with her dog.