Mindful Communication for Business Leaders

As we continue to examine mindfulness in communication, I want to keep exploring how critical mindfulness can be in your professional life. Mindful communication is important in your professional world, whether you are a boss, a client, or a janitor. Mindful communication is perhaps the most powerful influence for good within a business environment – and it is neglected more than any other aspect of successful company practices and policies. To bring mindfulness to your professional communications:

Speak Unselfishly

Talk about “we” and “us,” not “I” and “me.” People – and leaders, especially – who frame their statements in terms of themselves (“I need you to …,” “I want …,” “I think …,” “… is important to me,” “Tell me …,” etc.) have a more difficult time earning respect, and resentment is often the end result. Business success is not about any individual; it is about teamwork and mutual effort. Speaking inclusively (“We need to …,” “How can we …,” “What should our …,”) shows concern for others in a powerful way.

One critical note: Mean it. Hypocrisy is deadly. Don’t solicit input from a group (or even from one person when interacting with someone on a personal level) if you are not willing to consider and implement suggestions. That is not mindful; that is manipulative.

Don’t Ignore Written Communications

It is much easier to be misunderstood with written communication when there is no facial expression to help interpret the message. Therefore, we must be even more mindful with the things we write than any other form of professional communication. No matter how busy you are, no matter how big of a hurry you are in, stop and think before clicking send. Re-read your message and make sure it is saying what you really want it to say. And think about how the message will be received and whether or not it will be interpreted as you intended. If you cannot get your point across clearly in writing, pick up the phone or make an appointment to speak in person.

Listen More Than You Speak

The best leaders learn more than they instruct. Ask questions. When you ask a question, listen intently – to understand, not to respond. Responses will have their time and place, but full understanding is the first priority. In meetings, start by soliciting input from others before sharing your own thoughts. Use their input to consider your own assumptions and inclinations – and often, to change your mind based on what others share. If you give your thoughts first, many people simply will agree with you – and you will miss the opportunity to learn from them, implement a mutually established plan, and evaluate future leaders among those with whom you work. Ask yourself one simple question: Why am I speaking? If there is not a critical reason for you to speak, hush and listen.

The way you communicate, particularly with colleagues and employees, impacts company culture and the perception of everyone around you. How you communicate will impact your professional relationships in significant ways.