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Mindful Communication (1/4: Introduction)

Laura Thompson, EMP, INSEAD; Founding CEO, Laura Thompson Coaching & Consulting Services

        “Mindful communication” is a universal concept. It is for those who desire to communicate effectively, build better relationships, become culturally intelligent, uncover unconscious biases, develop compassion, and improve leadership skills along the way. Positive change comes from conscious awareness of yourself and others. Being mindfully present while using effective listening and speaking skills with those around you creates a more harmonious world for all of us, both personally and professionally.

        As Thomas Friedman argues in his book The World is Flat—and as we have seen with particular vividness in the Covid-19 pandemic of 2020—the world is becoming increasingly unified through digital technology and artificial intelligence (AI). The paradigm of top-down management continues to weaken in the era of digitalism because innovative technologies are increasing the interconnectedness of global leadership. Tools like the internet of things (IoT) and social networks are sharing knowledge and resources to assist in resolving world-wide crises—including the Covid-19 pandemic, a cyclical global economic downturn, and natural disasters. Many leaders across public and private sectors are learning best practices from each other and forming partnerships to eradicate big problems with big solutions, with the in- tention of creating a better, fairer world in alignment with the United Nation’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals. Today, thanks to the fundamental shift in present-day work methods and spaces, as well as the inevitable distress resulting from recent crises, our equilibrium has been disrupted. Many people in the workforce, both new entrants and more experienced players, are coping with increasing novelty, complexity, and change.

        Mindful communication and expanded awareness are needed now more than ever for leaders to collaborate effectively within organizations and across sectors and industries, whether in person or through virtual platforms. The methods I have created are based on years of primary research as a certified Executive Leadership Coach, Mentor, and purpose-driven Strategic Advisor, as well as through collaborations with innovative thought leaders and distinguished universities worldwide. Once learned, the methods allow you to communicate more authentically, using trust to generate positive outcomes and win-win situations. Don’t all of us desire more meaningful, caring, and productive relationships, with our family and friends and with our colleagues, our clients, and the world at large? The answer, of course, is yes.

        So, let us begin the journey. You will learn the two principles that constitute the foundation of mindful communication, and also the related art of civility. It will be discussed so it is not lost in the era of the IoT and a reminder that we are all still human beings while the nature of the world is being transformed in the 21st century. At the end of this journey together, a call-to-action will be summoned to reflect and incorporate these practices into your everyday lives.

1. The first principle relates to three levels of Effective Listening and Speaking (subjective, objective, and intuitive).
2. The second principle dives into awareness of self and others and mindfulness.
3. Related: Expression through the art of civility.
4. In conclusion: You will be asked to reflect on your inner hero or heroine’s journey in relationship to mindful communication, expanded awareness, and leadership during these times of high uncertainty.

        The art of mindful communication combines effective listening and speaking with an awareness of yourself and others. Thich Nhat Hanh, a Vietnamese Zen Master, says that once you learn to commune with yourself, you will be better able to communicate with others by using empathy and compassion. This is the overarching aim of the methods described in this article.

        Initially, I will describe three levels of listening and speaking: Subjective, Objective, and Intuitive. Examples and practice techniques will be given to illustrate how listening is an active process, not passive. Thereafter, I will explore connecting and communicating with yourself to understand mindful awareness. These two principles are the foundation of becoming a mindful communicator.

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