Improving your communication skills


 Improving your communication skills

Effective communication is the ability to share and understand ideas clearly, concisely, and with empathy. When someone has trouble communicating, it can result in a particular kind of suffering: the sufferer will know that they are not understood but will find it difficult to determine why. This experienced in isolation or when multiple people are involved may lead to an individual feeling misunderstood, frustrated, or angry.

Communication difficulties can often be resolved by taking some time to reflect on what went wrong and how to improve oneself as a communicator. For instance, a shy or unemotional person may be able to communicate more effectively via email or text, a less structured person may find it easier to communicate more in-person, and so on. This article will focus on how one can improve their communication skills by becoming a more mindful communicator.
An overview of mindfulness is found in Chapter 2 of Daniel J. Siegel's Mindsight (2010). Mindfulness is one form of meditation and is defined as "paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally".
Mindfulness is just one form of meditation though it is often used to demonstrate the potential benefits of meditation when practiced for long periods with increasing levels of concentration. Other forms of meditation include mantra, visualization, yoga, and others. Mindfulness is often taught as a form of cognitive behavioral therapy or distraction based therapy and it is often not considered as a form of meditation.
The ability to be mindful is useful in all aspects of life, but being mindful when communicating with others can be particularly useful. Being mindful allows an individual to reflect on their own thoughts and feelings using self-observation which allows one to become aware of how one feels internally in relation to the other person: what is said during a conversation can be read between the lines for example.
What can mindfulness do for communication?  A form of mindfulness called "Active Observational Awareness" is particularly useful when one's communication skills are found to be lacking. In this form of mindfulness, one must learn how to be attentive to their internal experiences and thoughts in relation to the other person. Consider the following example:
Imagine that you are having an informal conversation with a friend over the phone, when suddenly you notice that they are becoming frustrated at your lack of response. It is often easy to ignore this kind of cue or not know how to react when you notice that the other person's body language or words are becoming frustrated. In this case, it would be helpful if you were to recognize that your friend seems frustrated at your lack of response and then try to employ a new response based upon this recognition.
To do this one would have to be mindful of their own feelings and their own reactions to the other person. They must first know themselves in relation to the person they are interacting with, then they can change themselves in order to improve the interaction with the other person. Mindfulness can help with this.
For example, say you notice that you are becoming frustrated because the other person is talking about an issue or a problem that is disturbing to you. In this case it might help to acknowledge this feeling and then try to think of alternate ways of changing the subject in order to distract yourself from being drawn into their problem. For instance, consider asking a question about their film or shows. This will probably cause the topic of conversation to change and may be useful in preventing yourself from "getting lost" in their problems.
This type of mental exercise can be performed whenever one notices that they feel irritated at another person's communication style (or vice versa).
In order to be mindful one must pay attention to their feelings and their thoughts in relation to the other person. This is not always easy as it requires the individual to be fully present when interacting with others. It is however an important skill that can be learned with practice.
It is important for this form of mindfulness to be practiced at all times, not just when one feels frustrated or irritated by another person's communication style. Mindfulness allows an individual to recognize that they are angry or frustrated during a particular interaction with another person and then adjust their actions accordingly. This should lead to more satisfying interactions between oneself and others because feelings can be recognized and dealt with in time rather than being ignored which only causes frustration for both parties involved.
Mindfulness is not a cure-all for communication difficulties, but with practice it will provide an individual with tools that can be used to intercept when they find themselves being drawn into other people's problems. Mindfulness leads to the ability to let go of these feelings and thoughts at will. The overall goal is to try and be fully present in each interaction, while at the same time maintaining one's own sense of self. This should lead to more fulfilling interactions in all aspects of life, including the workplace and social interactions.
For further information on mindfulness visit  or . Also, this article provides a detailed discussion of mindfulness (and how it is often confused with other forms of meditation): .
Thank you for your time and good luck in your future endeavors!
Dedicated to my love Sophie. 
May you find happiness in every situation you encounter during this lifetime.
(P.S. If you want to see a list of all of my articles on psychology, click on this link: )
If you have questions or comments about this article feel free to contact me at . Please also like my Facebook page  Psychological Science of Personal Achievement  and follow me on Twitter @PsychScienceAp plication . Thank you for reading!
For further reading on a related topic, please see the following articles:
Thompson, M., & Sherman, J. (2011). "I'm not listening to that": The role of selective attention in moral evaluation and judgment.

In this article, I have attempted to communicate a basic understanding of mindfulness and how it can be applied to improve one's communication skills. While mindfulness can be used for many purposes, there is little evidence that it solves any specific communication difficulties. It is however an important skill that should not be neglected by any individual and should be practiced at least occasionally in order to improve the quality of one's life.
If you are interested in reading about the different forms of meditation and how they have been used throughout history, please click on this link: .

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