Each day we have a choice of how we’re going to show up and interact with others. To demonstrate appreciation for another person and what they may have to say means meeting them where they are at with a level of compassion and understanding.

Communicating is a dance between the messenger and receiver.

When it comes to communication, every individual has their style and preference. As with any art, repetition and discipline are necessary to improve your technique and elevate your method. To center yourself, you must pause and slow down. If you’re someone who joins conversations eager to tell your story and be heard, you may lose out on what the other person could have to offer if you don’t allow for an equalized approach. Likewise, if you’re someone who gravitates to a listen-only mode, remember that other people can’t read your mind and know your thoughts or opinions unless you speak up. More importantly, you end up giving your power away if you don’t think what you have to say is worthy enough to share.

By making a conscientious effort, you can balance your innate tendencies, stretch outside your comfort zone, and improve your dialogue. Here are five mindful practices you can use for ultimate communication success:

1. Be present.

Join conversations as your whole self – mind, body, and heart – and focus entirely on the other individuals and discussion. Try to build in breaks between phone calls and meetings to catch your breath, organize your thoughts, and rid yourself of distractions. Then set your intention to join your next chat with an open and fresh mindset.

2. Listen deeply.

One of the best gifts you can give another person is providing them space to speak freely, where you just listen. If you release your need to control the outcome, you may be surprised at what you learn or can achieve. A favorite quote of mine that expresses this point comes from Thich Nhat Hanh. He wrote:

“The practice of deep listening consists of keeping compassion alive the whole time that you’re listening. You do not listen in order to judge, criticize, or evaluate. You listen for one reason alone: to offer another person a chance to express him-or herself.”

3. Exhibit patience.

Not every person feels comfortable speaking up. Because of this, it’s important to allow someone extra time to formulate their thoughts and responses. By being patient, empathetic, and understanding, you let the other person know you value what they have to say. In turn, you strengthen your leadership acumen and emotional intelligence capabilities.

4. Honor different perspectives.

In business settings, some norms and values define an organization’s culture and expectations of individuals. However, this doesn’t mean we need to limit people’s abilities to express themselves. To foster relationships and build trust, acknowledge and welcome a diverse set of viewpoints, styles, and quirks.

5. Express gratitude.

William James said it best, “The deepest principle in human nature is the craving to be appreciated.” Saying thank you is the easiest way to recognize someone’s contribution. Those two little words imply, “I see you. I appreciate you. I value you.” Saying “thank you” with meaning and conviction can transform someone’s day and mindset, multiplying the positive effects ten-fold. If you’re looking for ways to express gratitude further, check out my previous blog on five simple ways to appreciate and recognize others.

These mindful exercises will help bolster your communication aptitude and your ability to overcome difficult conversations. In turn, you may find greater inner peace and balance for yourself.

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