Paying full attention to who’s speaking without any judgment, called mindful listening, can benefit your relationships.
Ever heard the expression “in one ear and out the other?” Mindful listening is the opposite. It involves taking an active role in hearing the person speaking with you so you can understand and remember what they said.
Practicing mindful listening can improve your communication skills and relationships. It can also help you show more empathy and understanding as you speak with the person.
Learning to be a mindful listener takes practice, but there are steps that can help you improve your listening skills.
Mindfulness is an awareness of your internal state and surroundings. Many who practice mindfulness also believe in cultivating a state of acceptance with this awareness. This means letting go of any judgment or negative feelings.
When applied to listening, mindfulness means being aware of what the person speaking says without judging them.
Mindful listening is about being present in your conversation so others feel heard and perceive your intention to listen and understand them.
Mindful listening can create a safe space for the speaker to share their thoughts and feelings with an open, attentive listener.
Similar to conscious listening, you put effort into paying attention to what the other person shares while honoring both of your needs. In some situations, being aware of your own needs in a conversation may make it more difficult to remain judgment free, which is the goal of mindful listening.
When you practice mindful listening, you practice a type of active listening. Ideally, you engage and give them your full attention, so you can take in everything the speaker communicates.
Practicing mindful listening involves avoiding distractions on a screen or from your own thoughts and feelings. Instead, it’s important to be present in the moment and conversation.
You can take steps to become more present in a conversation by practicing mindful listening.
Some mindful listening tips you may be interested in trying, include:
- Asking open-ended questions. This can help you get more out of what the other person talks about.
- Taking away devices. Put your cell phone, tablet, computer, or any other distraction down to give the person your full attention.
- Watching body language and listening for their tone. Both these nonverbal communication methods can help you understand more about what they say.
- Breathing Take a deep, mindful breath before responding.
- Picking a better time to talk. If you can’t focus on a conversation at the moment, it may help both of you to pick a different time to talk.
- Being patient: This includes not immediately reacting with your own emotions and allowing them to finish a thought before responding.
- Bringing your mind back to the conversation: You may find your mind wandering from time to time while talking with someone. Acknowledge that your mind wanders, and bring it back to the present conversation.
Mindful listening can play an important role in your relationship with others. Some of the benefits of mindful conversations include:
- being more aware of the other person’s feelings
- understanding more about your own feelings and reactions
- improving your ability to see things objectively
- avoiding reacting in a conflict-based way
- being better able to work toward a compromise
- avoiding conflict in a healthy way
All of this can lead to happier relationships. According to 2016 research, people who reported practicing mindfulness more often were more satisfied in their relationships.
When you consciously listen to others, it can:
- improve your relationship with friends, family, coworkers, and others
- allow you to understand where others are coming from
- help you to accept your own emotions and reactions to others
- allow you to better connect with others
- help you to push distractions out of your mind so you can focus on what others say
Mindfulness benefits extend beyond positive effects on your relationships with others. Practicing mindfulness regularly and participating in mindful meditation or practices like yoga can reduce your overall stress levels and benefit your health.
Mindful listening involves applying the concepts of mindfulness to your conversations with others.
Mindfulness is taking the time to be aware of your internal state and surroundings. By practicing mindfulness, you can help to develop a more positive attitude toward your own surroundings, emotions, and reactions.
Mindful listening can help you better understand:
- where the other person is coming from
- what they feel
- how you can manage your own reactions
To practice mindful listening, you can take small steps, including putting down your phone and practicing open-ended questions.