Are you a good listener? If you’re anything like the rest of us humans, even when you’re in the middle of a conversation, you find your thoughts whipping around your mind like an Indy 500 race car. Anything is fair game — mundane thoughts about paying bills or buying dish soap, judgments about the person who’s talking, or ideas about what you plan to say next. “We are so distracted by our own internal dialogue that it becomes impossible to hear, really hear, what’s being said,” says Jennifer Hunter, LISW-S, wellness director at the Cleveland Clinic. Bringing your awareness to the present moment — also known as mindfulness — will transform your conversations and, ultimately, your relationships. Instead of letting your mind run wild, try this technique, called listening in the moment:
- Take a breather: If you can make time to prepare for the conversation, take five deep breaths beforehand to help you feel calmer and more present.
- Look inward: Listen to your own internal dialogue. What is your mind doing? What “story thoughts” are you having? Acknowledge the thoughts or emotions that are distracting you.
- Let it go, let it go…and then focus: Let go of the activity in your mind. Say to yourself, “I choose to be fully present to this person.” And then be there.
"One of the most sincere forms of respect, is actually listening to what another has to say." Bryant H. McGill