Health and Mindfulness

The Mindfulness and Health Blog is a space to share science, ideas and practical experiences about how the practice of mindfulness relates to health (personal balance). The blog content is meant to be simple so it can be applied in real life – right here, right now. The blog is not intended to create back and forth responses, nor to give specific “right” answers, but rather to create conditions for people to practice and experience hands-on if what we offer works to improve their health.

PUBLIC PAGE
Thu, Dec 28, 2017 1:34pm

Geniune Listening

By mindfulbreathinglab, @mindfulbreathinglab

In today’s fast paced world, communication is more important then ever, yet we seem to devote less and less time to really listening to one another.

Genuine listening has become a rare gift that builds relationships, solves problems, ensures understanding, resolves conflicts, and improves accuracy.

Listening also means fewer errors and less wasted time when doing tasks.

Listening builds friendships and careers, and saves money and marriages.

The Chinese character for listening (ting) is a composite calligraphy that eloquently express that listening is more than just attending to sounds, but involves many senses.

chinese1: Listen with your ears to what is being said (primordial).

2: Listen with our eyes (make eye contact).

In Western cultures, eye contact is considered a basic ingredient of effective communication. When we talk, we look each other in the eyes.

Put aside papers, books, the phone and other distractions. Look at people, even if they don’t look at you.

We exchange a great deal of information about each other without saying a word.

When face to face with a person, you can detect enthusiasm, boredom, or irritation very quickly from the expression around the eyes, the set of the mouth, the slope of the shoulders. These are clues you can’t ignore. When listening, remember that words convey only a fraction of the message.

3: Listen with your mind: Give undivided attention (do not be somewhere else).

Be mindful of distractions, like background activity and noise or most frequently your own thoughts, feelings, or biases. A common way of being away is judging the other person or mentally criticizing the things you are being told. As soon as you indulge in a judgmental path, you’ve compromised your effectiveness as a listener. Listen without jumping to conclusions.

4: Listen with your heart; try to feel what the speaker is feeling.

To experience empathy, you have to put yourself in the other person’s place and allow yourself to feel what it's like to be her/him at that moment. This is not an easy thing to do. It takes energy and concentration. But it is a generous and helpful thing to do, and it facilitates communication like nothing else does.

Supporting Research

We previously have shown that health coaching among individuals with chronic lung disease discharged from the hospital, decreased readmissions and improved quality of life sustainably(1). We recently published a qualitative study investigating and trying to understand which part of health coaching was the most beneficial (2).

The results were striking and consistent. The most important factor in the health coaching was the kind and mindful communication between the patient and the coach. The listening skills of the health coach, a foundation of every health coaching training, really paid off.

In the context of apps and new technology, attentive and kind listening still seem to be a key ingredient for a care that heals.

 

                                                                                                                                                                             

References:

  1. Benzo R, Vickers K, Novotny PJ, Tucker S, Hoult J, Neuenfeldt P, et al. Health Coaching and COPD Re-hospitalization: a Randomized Study. American journal of respiratory and critical care medicine. 2016;8:8.
  2. Benzo RP, Kirsch JL, Hathaway JC, McEvoy CE, Vickers KS. Health Coaching in Severe COPD After a Hospitalization: A Qualitative Analysis of a Large Randomized Study. Respir Care. 2017;62(11):1403-11. Epub 2017/10/25. doi: 10.4187/respcare.05574. PubMed PMID: 29061910.

 

Thank you. This is a terrific reminder as we enter a new year and make New Years Resolutions. Being a visual learner, I especially appreciate the image of calligraphic Chinese character that includes the senses that are involved.
Rosemary

This is a great 4-point presentation for listening! Teresa

Liked by nyanjoklam

Given that we’re reading this fabulous article on a social website, I’d like to point out that item #2 “Listen with our eyes (make eye contact)” is not an option in a forum like Connect. But Connect members, especially mentors compensate for the lack of visual contact by increasing the intensity of listening with their hearts and open minds, often reading between the lines to “hear” what is not written.

I completely agree that listening creates connections, builds friendships and circles of trust, and reduces isolation and misunderstandings.

@nyanjoklam, thanks for this great post!

Remarkable Colleen, Remarkable advice!

Back in the 70’s, I took a class called “Parent Effectiveness Training” (I think it may still be around) to try and help deal with raising 7 children, 5 of which were teenagers. The most effective and helpful thing I learned in this class was the art of “active listening”. It is simply a way of letting the person know that you are listening and understanding by repeating back to them what you thought you heard them say, without judgment, questioning or trying to solve the issue. It worked like a charm with kids! I still use that learning today.

Recently, I’ve also learned to not think about what my response will be, while someone is talking to me. I had a very bad habit of doing that, and finally learned that my response is just not as important as what they are trying to say to me. I’m more able to understand others by listening fully before I even think about responding. I think we are all guilty of focusing on our responses, rather than focusing about what’s being said.

I agree with you and I wish I had learned this earlier in life. Now I try not to make any comments unless I am asked a question.

Liked by nyanjoklam

@colleenyoung

Given that we’re reading this fabulous article on a social website, I’d like to point out that item #2 “Listen with our eyes (make eye contact)” is not an option in a forum like Connect. But Connect members, especially mentors compensate for the lack of visual contact by increasing the intensity of listening with their hearts and open minds, often reading between the lines to “hear” what is not written.

I completely agree that listening creates connections, builds friendships and circles of trust, and reduces isolation and misunderstandings.

@nyanjoklam, thanks for this great post!

Jump to this post

Listen, loved all of it. We do not even have to say a word, listen to others as well as listen to ourselves, our bodies and most of all our feelings. But one does not have to act on our feelings, just depends what our desired outcome is.

@noway

I agree with you and I wish I had learned this earlier in life. Now I try not to make any comments unless I am asked a question.

Jump to this post

@noway, Welcome, and thank you for sharing.
We, on Mayo Connect, are always open to comments and questions and sharing. As a volunteer mentor, I want to invite you to browse thru our variety of discussion groups. Feel free to read silently, or to like, or to reply as you feel comfortable.
Sometimes, a ‘simple’ word of encouragement from another member can make all the difference to someone..
Rosemary

Thank you. I will print it and take it to a family gathering tonight. I will give it to my children and grandchildren, and we will read it out loud before we bless our food.

@noway, I’d like to add my welcome. Like Rosemary, I invite you to explore the groups and discussions on Connect. Here are some links to help you find your way around:
– Group Directory https://connect.mayoclinic.org/groups/
– Video Q&A https://connect.mayoclinic.org/webinars/

Liked by nyanjoklam

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