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How to Practice Mindful Listening & Why It's so Important.

A lot of us have heard of mindfulness and active listening, but have you ever heard of mindful listening?

Mindful listening is an intentional act of listening where the listener uses only non-verbal queues and focuses solely on the speaker and their words. Sounds simple right? The good news is that it is, but it is also a skill that must be developed!

Our world is filled with distractions, and it is easier than ever to let our minds wander even when we want to pay attention; this is where mindful listening comes in. Mindful listening is a useful skill, and without it, we can often run the risk of misunderstanding (or missing altogether) important information or unintentionally presenting the speaker with the idea that we don’t care about what they are trying to tell us.

Mindful listening isn’t necessary in every conversation but is especially important when discussing important topics or when the speaker shares their feelings. When speaking with a colleague or a co-parent, someone who can mindfully listen is less likely to experience a frustrating miscommunication.

Try this activity: Ask a friend or family member (you can also use a portion of a ted talk if a friend is not available to practice this with) to speak to you about anything for three minutes. They don’t have to fill the whole three minutes, but it is three minutes of their time to speak. As the listener, make sure to only respond with non-verbal communication (ex., head nods/shakes). Focus only on the speaker and their message, and tune into their body language and tone while speaking. If your mind wanders, try to bring it back quickly.

When the time is done, take a moment to reflect. Was it hard to stay focused the whole time? Did you find yourself wanting to interject or use verbal communication as the listener? If your mind wandered, were you able to bring it back? How did you feel during this exercise?

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