Human communication

Mindful Communication | Manila weather


“The most precious gift we can give to others is our presence.” – Thich Nhat Hanh

The HUMAN vocabulary has so much on our mind. One term is “mindfulness”, and another is the absence of consciousness. “Mindfulness is the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we are doing, and not overly responsive or overwhelmed by what is going on around us.” (https://www.mindful.org ›Meditation) By understanding mindfulness as such, we can be mindful of communicating with others, whether it is with our leaders, teachers or students, etc. By communicating / conversing with others, we are there with them in person. Our spirit is with us, not wondering elsewhere as the words come and go from two mouths or from several mouths.

Conscious communication. In graduate school, about four decades ago, I remember well what the late Minister of Education Lourdes R. Quisumbing (LRQ) taught us in our school administration class. She has reminded us many times that when we listen we should listen “with all of our heart and with all of our mind.” Likewise, when we speak, we should say what we are saying with “all of our mind and with all of our heart.” Over the years, as I ascended vertically in my profession, these words remained clearly etched in my mind and with more meaning than when I heard it said while I was a student. Indeed, whether it is as a leader, manager or teacher, when someone has to explain to us a question that we ask or a remark that we make, our mind tends to prepare what to answer / contradict even if the person did not complete their answer. Our mind is elsewhere looking for words, whether defensive or mocking. Since our mind is not fully present to listen, that is what LRQ must have meant – that we hear, but we do not listen. This situation does not only occur in formal settings. It happens everywhere, like children explaining to their parents the questions their parents ask them. And parents struggle to answer even though the kids haven’t finished saying what they’re saying. Many of us don’t pay attention to what the person is telling us. Mindful communication means that we are present with the other person with whom we are communicating. Being fully present means staying open and non-judgmental, and relating to the person with compassion. “By pausing to notice how we respond to others, we can open up to more honest communication.” (https://www.mindful.org/stop-go-wait/) If a person awkwardly explains what we didn’t like, conscious communication makes us more compassionate.

Benefits of Conscious Communication. Conscious communication makes us aware when our communication, so to speak, shows a red light – which means that we should not continue as there is a problem to overcome during the conversation. This means that the communication channels are closed. And no matter what the two of us say, neither of the communicants will accept. In this case, we may choose to remain silent rather than blurt out what we later regret. We should take time when we are feeling overwhelmed by our emotions. Being careful about how we open and close our conversations can give us more control over our conversations. We can think about how we usually open our conversations. Do we feel emotionally secure when we strike up a conversation? Have we ever felt that we would be the losers if the conversation continued? If so, how did we try to end the conversation? We can review the patterns in the way we communicate – these patterns close or keep a conversation open. As we reflect on these patterns, we learn about their effects that lead us to better control our conversations.

Practice conscious communication. Mindful communication encompasses both the speaker and the listener. It also involves non-verbal communication. Our body language would reflect if we are giving our full attention to the conversation. It will also reflect whether it is with kindness, understanding and compassion towards what is related to us. Full attention means full presence – not checking smartphones, writing down something, or engaging in anything else during the chat. To have successful communication, we need to put our activities aside and be totally with the person we are talking to. It also doesn’t mean that we keep looking at the person we’re chatting with. Paying attention to the communication patterns we are used to increases our awareness of others with whom we are conversing. It deepens our understanding of people. If we are a leader, mindful communication would make us feel the individual differences of our employees – those who speak out and those who are shy and prefer to remain silent, but who would speak to employees at their level.

Summary. According to the Merriam Webster Dictionary, “communication” is “a process by which information is exchanged between individuals through a common system of symbols, signs or behaviors”. However, this exchange is sometimes disrupted. For a number of reasons, the words don’t line up with the facial expression and voice. “Conscious communication involves listening, speaking and using non-verbal communication with kindness, care, compassion and awareness. If we use each ‘communication exchange with careful care and attention; if every symbol, sign, and deed performed were imbued with kindness and caring, relationships would improve, productivity would increase, and misunderstandings would decrease. Where would we be if we could be present with each other in this way? ”(Https://mindfulminutes.com/category/mindful-communication/)

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Teresita Tanhueco-Tumapon, PhD, one of the Philippines’ most accomplished educators and experts in higher education institutional management, has studied at top universities in the Philippines and Germany, Britain and Japan. She has held senior academic positions at Xavier University, Ateneo de Cagayan; was appointed presidential after EDSA 1986 to standardize campus operations in state institutions and served 17 years thereafter as president of SUC. She is director of the internationalization office and lecturer at Liceo University of Cagayan. The awards include the CHEd Lifetime Professional Achievement Award, the British Council Valuable Services Recognition Award, the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany and the Ministry of Education award for his initiatives as a pioneer member of the Philippine Teacher. Education Council.


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