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Mindful Listening

Haven’t we sat through a meeting to only discover that we haven’t retained any of the information?

Are we guilty of listening passively, rather than actively?

Do we often hear rather than listen?

A little mindfulness in the way we listen can go a long way in retaining information and making our family, friends & colleagues feel heard.

Mindful listening involves “listening without judgment, criticism or interruption, while being aware of internal thoughts and reactions that may get in the way of people communicating with us effectively”.

Here are two methods of practicing Mindful Listening:


  • Halt — Halt whatever you are doing and offer your full attention.
  • Enjoy — Enjoy a breath as you choose to receive whatever is being communicated to you—wanted or unwanted.
  • Ask — Ask yourself if you really know what they mean and if you don’t, ask for clarification. Instead of making assumptions, bring openness and curiosity to the interaction. You might be surprised at what you discover.
  • Reflect — Reflect back to them what you heard. This tells them that you were really listening.


In his TED Talk (https://youtu.be/cSohjlYQI2A), Julian Treasure gives us an easy acronym to improve our conscious listening.

  • Receive – pay attention to the person
  • Appreciate – making sounds of acknowledgement like “hmm,” “oh,” “OK”
  • Summarize – the word “so” is very important in communication
  • Ask – ask questions afterwards

Interestingly, the letters of the word LISTEN and SILENT are the same.

To listen mindfully, we need to silence our thoughts and words.

The next time we are talking to someone, let’s make sure to dive into the “essence of good conversations”.

Let’s listen actively, empathetically & mindfully.


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Mindful Listening


Hunters wait for long stretches silently as they keep an ear open for the cry or call of a prey.

They listen to shifts in the wind, rustles in the foliage, warnings from other animals or even an inner voice that urges them to wait a little bit longer.

In  a similar way, each of us have to bring to work and to our interactions, our own version of attentiveness and practice varying degrees of concentration.

Do we pay heed to what we do? We tend to be distracted, more often than not.

Do we hold our listening focus for long stretches? We drift off into the future, ruminate about the past or simply tune off.

Do we practice mindful listening when one is talking? We sometimes give the appearance of being present in a conversation when, in fact, our mind is elsewhere.

Do we respond in defence or in reply after having listened to the other? We must be silent before we can listen.

Mindfulness encourages us to center on what is actually happening in the present and to be keenly aware of our inner responses to what is unfolding externally. (Diggins, 2011)

Whether at work or in a conversation, let us anchor ourselves to the present moment.

Let us practice mindfulness.

Mindful Listening.