Learn to Become a Mindful Listener

Being present and focused helps create everyday happiness in my life. It has helped me throughout my eating disorder recovery. We can build daily happiness with small steps. One small step is creating meaning with EVERY conversation by stopping your mind from wandering while talking with others. Be present and listen to the other person. Here are a few tips to stay focused:

#1 givE the person speaking your full attention.

When your mind begins to wander, rein in your thoughts. Think of it almost as you would a horse and immediately bring yourself back to the words the other person is saying. Concentrate on the actual words and stay out of your own mind. It’s easy to get distracted at first when practicing mindful listening. Be patient with yourself every time you have to rein yourself back in to their words.

#2 Resist the powerful urge to judge.

It natural to immediately begin judging things that the other person is saying. Instead of judgment, try welcoming whatever comes up in their conversation with an open heart and mind. Let people express themselves openly and honestly. Be supportive and create a safe environment for sharing.

#3 Avoid the common blocks to listening.

Researchers from the Wright Institute have found that most people tend to do at least one of the following:

  • Filtering – You miss the speaker’s point completely and then the entire subject becomes derailed.
  • Derailing – You change the subject. This tends to happen when you aren’t listening. Focus on the other person and what they are actually saying.
  • Comparing – You have thoughts about the other person such as the person is smarter than you, etc. These types of thoughts will block listening.
  • Rehearsing – You plan your response to the conversation in your mind instead of actually listening to what the person is saying.
  • Placating – You automatically agree with the other person instead of stating your true opinion.

#4 Be an active participant.

Don’t just wait for your turn to talk. Be active in the conversation. Also, focus on being empathetic, not sympathetic. Try and actually understand what the speaker is experiencing. See yourself as a receiver, not just a taker.

#5 Ask Questions.

Ask “why”, “what”, or “how” to get the other person to talk at a depth your brain will find engaging. For example, “How did you get started with your new project?” Mindfulness and effective listening go hand. A study done by the Western Reserve found that people who completed mindfulness training were able to listen better and longer than those who hadn’t.