“First learn the meaning of what you say, and then speak.” — Epictetus
I like to think of the way we speak with one another as the “Art of Communication.”
There are courses taught on this subject, but it seems to be geared towards strengthening public speaking and writing skills, which is great if you’re going into public speaking. These courses are basically designed to help you speak from the “best of yourself and to capture your listeners’ attention.”
To me, speaking from the “best of yourself” means talking to another person mindfully, which is with awareness, and giving them the attention they deserve, not because you want to “capture your listeners’ attention,” but that you’re wanting to “connect” with whomever you’re speaking with from a place that is present, kind and respectful for no other reason than that’s how you want to treat them.
When we speak with one another, we have the opportunity to engage with total awareness and recognize the “best of” each other by what we choose to say. Have you ever noticed when you say something nice or complimentary to someone you’re speaking with, how it can actually make them light up, as if you’ve turned on some kind of a switch for them? The way you can bring out the “best of yourself” is by making a conscious effort to bring out the best in someone else through your communication. This makes communicating less “me-centric,” which is talking to hear yourself talk, or talking “at” someone rather than “with” them, or being more interested in wanting to “capture” their attention for some kind of pay off. Our daily communication with others — family, friends, and even strangers can become more “artful” by how mindfully we choose our words and sentences.
If you can consider communication as an empty canvas to paint with words, think of all of the wonderful and beautiful things you can say to another person. There are approximately 500,00 words in the English language, and supposedly at least 100,000 of them are adjectives, so imagine how creative you can be with how you communicate!
Here’s an exercise you can do to increase, enhance and even strengthen your “art of communication” skills. Try using some of those adjectives!
1. Write down something nice you’d like to say to someone you know.
2. Write down something you’d like to say to someone that bothers you about them.
3. Read your sentence and ask yourself if you would want this said to you.
4. If it’s acceptable to you, keep it as is. If it’s not, rewrite it as you would want to hear it.
5. Write down something you’d like to say to someone that you haven’t. It could be someone from your past you don’t see.
6. Read your sentence and ask yourself if you would want this said to you.
7. If it’s acceptable to you, keep it as is. If it’s not, rewrite it as you would want to hear it.
8. Write down something you’d like to say to someone as if you’re never going to see them again.
9. Read your sentence and ask yourself if you would want this said to you.
10. If it’s acceptable to you, keep it as is. If it’s not, rewrite it as you would want to hear it.
11. Write down something you’d like to say to yourself, but haven’t.
12. Read what you wrote and ask yourself if you were honest.
13. If you weren’t as honest as you can be, rewrite it.
14. How does what you wrote make you feel?
15. Did you learn something about yourself?
16. Do you consider yourself a Mindful communicator?
It’s helpful to know that what we say to someone else, might not be what we would want said to us, and that how we talk to ourselves can be how we talk to others, which might not be as mindful as it can be. The “art of communication” requires awareness not only of how we are communicating with another person, but how we also communicate with ourselves.
Remember, your conversations can be like painting a canvas with words. Be masterful!
This article originally appeared at https://www.huffpost.com/entry/mindful-communication_b_3342760