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Mindful Communication

Mindful Communication

The topic at a glance

Drugs Don’t Improve Our Ability to Communicate

One of the things that attracted me to alcohol was it seemed to improve my ability to communicate with others. It didn’t do this by magically transforming me into a charismatic speaker and ‘good listener’ – instead it gave me a false sense of confidence (or at least made me numb me enough not to care what other people thought of me).

I never actually developed my ability to communicate, and the same seems to be true for most of us who have used alcohol or drugs as a substitute. This means it is usually something we need to work on in recovery. Mindfulness can be of great help in this regard:

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How to Speak Mindfully

In the playground we learn that ‘sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me’. It may be a nice ideal, but for the majority of us, this saying is more like wishful thinking than actual experience. We can feel hurt by what others say to us, and the things we say can potentially cause a great deal of harm to others.

It is irresponsible to just expect people to accept the things we say without taking offence or feeling hurt. A verbal attack can cause as much damage as a physical attack – especially if the other person is vulnerable. Here are some suggestions for how to speak more mindfully:

How to Listen Mindfully

I once believed being a good listener was all about keeping my mouth shut until it was my turn to speak. As the other person was talking, I would be having a conversation in my head about what I was going to say. This was a very ineffective way of listening, and it frequently meant I got the ‘wrong end of the stick’ or ended up saying the completely wrong thing. It was probably also obvious to the other person that I wasn’t really listening.

Mindful listening means giving a similar amount of attention to what the other person is saying as we do our own thoughts. It means being genuinely interested in the words of others so we are willing to give the appropriate amount of attention to these words.

In order to listen mindfully, it is suggested that you:

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