If you have been kind enough to read my posts on Mindfulness, you may have thought “Isn’t that a bit too self-centered?”
Up until now, the posts have been mostly about our inner life (thoughts, feelings and sensations); Let’s now move from the intrapersonal to the interpersonal, taking into account another’s world, and the place where their world and ours meet. This means recognizing that the other person has his perceptions, feelings and needs, which are almost certainly different than ours, especially in times of conflict or disagreement.
Well, while there is plenty of evidence that shows how mindfulness develops compassion and empathy, I wanted today to talk to about mindful communication.
What does it means to be mindful in our interactions with others, for instance coworkers?
You may also well remember the posts on Non Violent Communication (NVC) on this blog. We will later discuss how NVC characterizes so well mindful communication. But before we do that, let me summarize briefly what NVC is. And who else, other than Marshall B. Rosenberg ‘s own description Marshall (author of Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life) !
“The Non Violent Communication Process
To arrive at a mutual desire to give from the heart, we focus the light of consciousness on four areas — referred to as the four components of the NVC model
- First, we observe what the others are saying or doing that is either enriching or not enriching our life. The trick is to be able to articulate this observation without introducing any judgment or evaluation.
- Next, we state how we feel when we observe this action: are we hurt, scared, joyful, amused, irritated?
- And thirdly, we say what needs of ours are connected to the feelings we have identified. An awareness of these three components is present when we use NVC to clearly and honestly express how we are. For example, a mother might express these three pieces to her teenage son by saying, “Felix, when I see two balls of soiled socks under the coffee table and another three next to the TV, I feel irritated because I am needing more order in the rooms that we share in common.”
- She would follow immediately with the fourth component – a very specific request: “Would you be willing to put your socks in your room or in the washing machine?” This fourth component addresses what we are wanting from the other person that would enrich our lives or make life more wonderful for us.
Thus, part of NVC is to express these four pieces of information very clearly, whether verbally or by other means. The other part of this communication consists of receiving the same four pieces of information from others. We connect with them by first sensing what they are observing, feeling and needing; then we discover what would enrich their lives by receiving the fourth piece — their request.
In summary, the NVC Process:
1.The concrete actions we observe that affect our well-being
2.How we feel in relation to what we observe
3.The needs, values, desires, etc. that create our feelings
4. The concrete actions we request in order to enrich our lives”
The essence of NVC is in our consciousness of the four components, not in the actual words that are exchanged.
If you think about it, every single step of the process requires us to be aware and mindful of others as well as ourselves. It is a moment-by-moment awareness, both of our external environment and our internal state.
And at work, I have always found that to be particularly challenging. The busyness and stress of our work lives make it really hard to cultivate that moment-to-moment awareness. And because sometimes so much is asked of us, we tend to focus more on ourselves and less on the needs of other people as a result.
This was famously demonstrated in the classic Good Samaritan experiments conducted by John Darley and Daniel Batson in the 1970s. Darley and Batson assigned seminary students at Princeton University to deliver a talk on the Good Samaritan. While on their way to their presentation, the students passed someone (working with the researchers) who was slumped over and groaning. The researchers tested all kinds of variables to see what might make the students stop to help, but only one variable mattered: whether or not the students were late for their talk. Only 10 percent of the students stopped to help when they were late; more than six times as many helped when they were not in a hurry.
This study suggests that people are not inherently morally insensitive, but when we’re stressed, scared, hurried, it’s easy to lose touch with our deepest values. By helping us stay attuned to what’s happening around us in the present moment, regardless of the time, mindfulness helps us stay connected to what is most important.”
That’s it. That’s the Holy Grail. We do want to cultivate mindfulness so that we developed that awareness in the present moment. Which then helps us be connected to ourselves and to others. Through mindful communication and expression.
Who wouldn’t want to be part of that inspiring journey and make a positive impact every day, at work ?