In teaching any of my longer-term Mindfulness classes, I typically share a session I adore entitled "Mindful Communication." It's one short lesson, that can end up having one long-lasting impact.
One part of this art form of communication is learning how to simply listen to people when they are talking to you. Sounds easy enough, right? But do you? Typically I find a couple of things tend to get in the way when it comes to mindful communication.
First, we are so easily distracted these days, so having your device "at hand" or even "in hand" has become the norm. Good communication would suggest the phone is put away when folks are trying to speak with you. Common sense? I think not.
Second, let's say we are listening to what's being said. Nice, but while you're listening are you judging what's being said? Is your mind telling you things like "I would never have done that!" Or "You must be kidding me, not again?" If you are judging, you are not really listening, mindfully, at least. Going through the motions doesn't score you any "browine points" in real life.
And finally, you are engaged with your fellow man, you've shut the "judge" down and yet now your mind is fabricating a response for the person speaking with you. Suggestions, advice, thoughts on the subject matter. Again, are you really listening?
Mindful communication teaches us that when authentic engagement is the goal, just being there, being present with your full-attention is what's typically desired by the other party, even if that desire is never communicated.
Try this next time someone is chatting with you. Listen fully. Make sure they are done speaking when you finally do and you say things in support of them like "I'm sorry that happened to you." or "Is there anything I can do to help you right now?" Give your thoughts, advice or suggestions under only two circumstances. One, you are asked and two, you politely say "I have a thought or two, mind if I share?"
Mindful, present communication where you are just there for that other being, be it the real-life or "stuffed" variety, is a beauitful thing.