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Wise Online- Week 6



Week 6- Mindful Leadership- Authenticity, Compassion and Openness 

Are you a Mindful Communicator?

This week the focus is on mindfulness, compassion and effective communication.  Ask yourself the following questions and based on your answers, decide if you can be more mindful at work and in your relationships at home.

Work your way through the following checklist, answering either YES or NO to the following questions.  There is no need to judge yourself. Simply make a note of what you can work on further.

Ask Yourself…. Yes, I am very mindful of my behaviour  No, I need to work on this further
Do you take the time to listen to what others have to say?
Do you really hear them and appreciate their view point? Or are you quick to interject your own thoughts before they are even finished?
Can you concentrate on what is being discussed or is your mind scattered and thinking about other things?
Are you calm and in control when faced with difficult or challenging situations? Or do you jump to conclusions or react unfavourably?
Are you clear on your path and have the ability to inspire and motivate others? Do you have self-compassion and the courage to lead and mentor others?
Are you a positive pillar at work (and at home) and a person others can turn to? Or do you always have negative things to say?
Is there always trust and respect for other human beings? Are you able to accept responsibility for actions without placing blame on others? Do you avoid saying bad things about other people?
Do you care about other people’s well-being and lives, genuinely wishing them happiness and ease.
Do you always show kindness to all human beings (including work colleagues and even strangers)

Mindful Communication

The essence of communicating mindfully is about cultivating empathy, understanding and respect. It’s a practice devoted to pausing; noticing the breath; identifying and expressing feelings, needs, and expectations with care and respect; and listening for the same in others.

Compassionate communication (also known as NVC non-violent communication) helps us remain empathetic with each other, even in situations fraught with anger or frustration. It teaches us to speak to others without blaming and to hear personal criticisms without withering.

Mindfulness, with its inherent focus on being present and non-judgmental, seems particularly suitable for promoting the quality of communication and dealing with conflict.

To be assertive, you need to learn to engage in healthy conflict. Healthy conflict directly and constructively addresses the issue at hand without ignoring the needs of either party. The strategies that follow will get you there.

Effective communication with those who we disagree with is extraordinarily difficult. If you are like most people, you have a fall-back strategy to deal with conflict that was learned early in life, one that is habitual and embedded in interactions with others.

The three most common strategies are:

  • Accommodate (“be nice”)
  • Demand (“me first”)
  • Withdraw (“I don’t care”)

There is a fourth way, one that involves investigating both your world and the other person’s world, that can sometimes yield a surprising and creative solution that honours both parties. In the martial art, Aikido, this would be called blending, a move that harms neither party and turns conflict into more of a dance than a fight. This is complex and an art form in itself, and forms the basis of Marshall Rosenberg’s Non-Violent Communication (NVC), something that is introduced this week.

Mindful non-violent communication (NVC) consists of three facets:

(a) being present and paying attention in conversations

(b) an open, non-judgmental attitude

(c) a calm, non-impulsive manner.

NVC is often referred to as ‘giraffe language’. The giraffe is the land animal with the biggest heart. With their long neck the giraffe has a good overview and clear vision. The giraffe stands for compassionate communication. Giraffe language is unifying.

NVC guides us to reframe how we express ourselves and how we hear others. Instead of habitual, automatic reactions, our words become conscious responses based firmly on awareness of what we perceive, feel and want in that moment.

Within the framework of NVC, we’re led to express ourselves with honesty and clarity, while simultaneously paying others a respectful and empathic attention. In any exchange, we come to hear our own deeper needs and those of others. NVC trains us to observe carefully, and to specify behaviours and conditions that are affecting us. The form is simple, yet powerfully transformative.

Positive Communication

In our fast paced world, mindfulness is quickly becoming a practice of great positivity. Positive communicators :

  • SMILE often!
  • Spend time taking about the good things that are happening.
  • Refrain from talking badly or in a negative way about others.
  • Actively appreciate the efforts of others.
  • Enthusiastically share thoughts and plans for the future.
  • Value and respect other people’s point of view
  • Communicate in an open and honest (yet constructive!) way.
  • Ask questions that recognise positive strengths by affirming that persons abilities and potentials.
  • Take the opportunity and time to give praise to those who deserve it.
  • Be open to new ideas and thoughts.
  • Evoke positive emotions through brief positive conversations.

Mindful Listening

We are asked to lead a life of honest expression, which starts with listening as a way to remember what matters, to name what matters, and to voice what matters. These are the practices that keep us authentic.” ~ Mark Nepo, Seven Thousand Ways to Listen.

Most people do not listen with the intent to understand- they listen with the intent to reply.  Adopting a mindful approach to communication has many benefits including shared understanding, strengthened relationships, deepened trust, and a keen awareness.

Take your communication to a new level by being mindful as you speak and listen:

  • Be fully present.
  • Listen attentively, from your mid-chest rather than just your ears.
  • Deeply understand before evaluating. Don’t be quick to jump to an assumption or conclusion.
  • Respond appropriately. Not only with your words, but with your entire body, being mindful of what you say, how you say it, and what you show in your facial expressions and body movements.


INFORMAL PRACTICE-  Mindful Listening

The informal practice this week is to use conversation as an opportunity for ongoing meditation practice. Listening mindfully to your colleagues, friends, family, loved ones, neighbours, offenders, strangers etc. Notice when your mind becomes distracted and notice when the mind wants to formulate a response and interject its own ideas and opinions into the conversation. See if you can be present to it all- get curious about what the mind does during listening.

*Remember- listen deeply from the chest. When it is your turn to reply demonstrate reflective listening by letting them know exactly what you heard. People want to be listened to and heard and this is a wonderful way to strengthen relationships and build rapport with others.


FORMAL PRACTICE- Self-Compassion 

Practice this week offering moments of self-compassion to yourself. Small moments of positive self-talk and kindness during times of hurt, difficulty, disappoint, stress or distress will ultimately result in us being more compassionate to others. Imagine what you would say to a close friend or a loved one who was hurting. Imagine that you are saying these words to yourself.  This is a skill that should be practiced regularly. It helps us with the ability to communicate more effectively and offer more compassion to others.