Ever feel like you engage your mouth before engaging your mind? Ever send a seemingly brilliant email, and later realize some of its content may be offensive to the receiver?
Relationships are unintentionally damaged by words, body language, and tones of voice. Jobs are lost. Political campaigns end prematurely. Credibility suffers. All because of mindless communication.
Think of the last time something mindless slipped from your mouth. How is it that we so easily produce the opposite of mindful communication? Perhaps Holocaust survivor and psychiatrist, Viktor Frankl, provides a clue: “Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”
Too many times, maybe our communication creates emotional havoc because we ignore the space between a stimulus and our response – we’re not aware of our power to choose a communication response. Think of a stimulus as anything that triggers an emotional reaction in you: accusation by a spouse, criticism by a coworker, defiance by a child, overbearing control by a parent. This week’s tip invites us to recognize and mindfully use the space between stimulus and communication response.
Relationship Tip: Mindful Communication
Whatever your stimulus or trigger, use the space before your communication response to focus on two things:
- Attention: Recognize and pay attention to your choice of response. This is how you discover the space between stimulus and response. Pay attention to the setting and the nature of your relationship to the other person or people. Can you imagine what their internal worlds look like? What does your internal world like?
- Intention: Now consider how to bring your communication response in line with what’s important to you. Ask yourself, What do I want to communicate? Next ask, How do I want to communicate it? Answers to these questions describe your communication intention.
However you choose to communicate, respond in a way that reflects your newly discovered attention and intention.
How might relationships change when we embrace mindful communication?