MINDFUL COMMUNICATION

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Quite often, when we communicate or deal with other people – may that be our athletes, or, in turn, our coach, parents, our boss or the federation – we don't really focus on the real needs of the other person. Instead, we tend to focus on our own interests, on our contract, or e.g. where the money comes from (or the funding). 

Before going into more detail of how mindful communication could look like, I'd like you to reflect on the following questions:

  • How do you react to your athletes, your coach, parents, your boss or the federation in communications?
  • Are you often irritated or stressed by them, their needs and wishes?
  • Do you both speak the "same language" (and no, I don't necessarily mean that you both speak English)? 
  • Do people always get from you what they asked for?
  • Which goal do you normally pursue when talking to your athletes, your coach, parents, your boss or the federation?

And now ask yourself:

  • Do you want to be treated and talked to like you treat and talk to others? Do you take others seriously in their needs?

If we take people we talk to seriously and try to understand their feelings and needs, and treat them accordingly, we foster a healthy relationship and good communication. Being mindful of our own feelings, also helps us to not feel personally attacked when someone reacts badly to us.

HOW CAN WE LEARN TO BE MORE MINDFUL WHEN COMMUNICATING?

  • Thinking something doesn't mean saying it.
  • What's been said has not necessarily been heard.
  • Hearing doesn't mean understanding.
  • Understanding doesn't equal agreeing.
  • Agreeing doesn't equal implementing.
  • Implementing doesn't necessarily mean implementing forever.

1. MAKE CONTACT WITH THE OTHER PERSON. First of all, it's important that you are aware of your own state of mind: Did you sleep enough or are you grumpy because the alarm rang too early? Did you have an upsetting meeting before? Was the training maybe bad? Become aware of your own mental state, so you can influence it. Become aware of your emotions and mood. This is not only helpful for yourself but also for everyone around you. Then, get in the right mindset for talking to the other person, make contact and perceive the situation with all your senses: How does the other one look like? How does he/ she sound like? Which atmosphere does he/ she create? Try to signal the other person that you are there with him/ her and accept him/ her the way he/ she is. Try to create a comfortable atmosphere. 

2. LISTEN MINDFULLY. Give the other person space and listen to him/ her carefully, curiously and interestedly. In turn, a trustful atmosphere will be created. Try to create an atmosphere in which you would like to be yourself – an atmosphere where you are given space and are listened to. If you listen carefully, remember not to give advise immediately, particularly if it hasn't been explicitly asked for. We often tend to comment a statement or offer our solutions for a problem before the other person has even finished talking. Try to have a sympathetic ear for what's been said – such as you would like to experience it yourself! If you interrupt, the other person might lose the thread and might not want to keep talking anymore. Any maybe maybe, he/she doesn't want to talk to you again next time.

3. APPRECIATION & INTEREST. Appreciation and respect are – with no doubt – two of the most important parts of a good communication. Real appreciation, real interest in the other person. Try to observe yourself when talking to others. Do you always want to be right? Do you sometimes/ often interrupt other people? Are you really interested in what the other person has to say? Become aware of your attitude towards the other person. Try to be empathic, recognise their thoughts, feelings and needs. The other person will feel understood and "seen". Did you know that if athletes are "seen" by their coaches, the same part of the brain is triggered that is responsible for being motivated? The same counts for federations talking to their coaches, or parents talking to their kids... Luckily, empathy can be learned. First step: being mindful of our own and others' feelings and needs.

4. BE AUTHENTIC. Don't try to be someone else. We all have our flaws and a mind of our own. Trying to be someone else is like using a protective shield, and in turn, won't be authentic.

5. I-MESSAGES. Talk in I-messages to avoid conflict. Don't say "You have done this wrong" or "You blame me for this". Such messages are a direct assessment of what the other one said, which will, in turn, lead to misunderstanding and the other person feeling attacked. Hence, the other person will try to defend themselves "I didn't mean it like this" or "You understood that the wrong way" and so on. Instead, try to echo what's been said like "I heard that this happened...", "Did I understand you right...", "My impression is...". Afterwards, you can start talking about how you perceived it. This way, the other person doesn't feel attacked and can easily respond to your statement.

6. ACCEPT OTHER STANDPOINTS. Don't insist on your standpoint and your truth. Every person is different. Accept that we all have different standpoints, experiences and "truths". If we try to be open to other perspectives, it opens up our view on the world. It helps us to take other people's perspectives and attitudes more seriously, accept them and leave them standing.

If you want to improve the communication and feedback culture in your team, feel free to contact us for more information about workshops, individual coaching or a keynote.

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