Wellbeing is defined by the Oxford English Dictionary as “the state of being comfortable, healthy, or happy.
Wellbeing is a combination of a person's physical, mental, emotional, and social health factors. It is linked to happiness and life satisfaction. To sum it up simply wellbeing could be described as how you feel about yourself and your life. Every area of our life affects our wellbeing.
One of the areas that affect our sense of wellbeing is our relationships which are influenced by how we communicate.
Effective communication is a skill.
One of the simplest ways we can enhance our communication skills is to be present.
Being present is simply giving your whole attention to the other person. Listening without trying to formulate a reply or judge or making mental assumptions. When we are present its easier to engage in active listening.
Active listening is listening with your whole body, feeling into what the person is trying to communicate with you. Listening twice as much as you speak and listening without trying to formulate a reply or interrupting, just listening.
Keeping an open mind and an attitude of curiosity around what the person is saying can help us to stay focused and remain alert and attentive.
Hold eye contact with the person where it is culturally acceptable.
Listen without interrupting or offering solutions.
Try to imagine how the speaker feels, picking up on subtle hints and nonverbal cues to understand the emotions involved. If you are unclear on something, wait until the speaker pauses before reflecting back what you have heard to ensure you have understood correctly.
One way to improve your listening is to learn to listen without judgment.
Listening without judgment means not jumping to conclusions, being critical or forming opinions about what is being said.
Listening without judging is not always easy.
For most people, it takes lots of practice, but it is an important skill.
When you hear someone talking, you typically analyse what they are saying from your own life experiences and perspective. It's important to remember we are all a little different and we all have experiences that influence that way we interpret the world around us and we don't all see things the same way.
Instead of listening from your own perspective, try putting yourself in the other person's shoes and listening from there point of view.
Being empathetic to the person's situation can help you open your mind while listening and it helps you to hold a safe space for them to communicate honestly and openly with you.
Withholding judgment and being empathic while you listen to others means you can truly hear them with an open mind. Your friends, family and colleagues will feel better supported and have a felt sense of being truly seen and heard by you.
Our sacred obligation as fellow humans is to hold space for those around us, to see and hear the people around us and acknowledge our common humanity.
We all need connection and developing our communication skills is one of the ways we can offer this to our family, friends, colleagues, and communities.
Akwaeke Emezi, says “Understand this if you understand nothing: it is a powerful thing to be seen”.
Thich Nhat Hanh says “ The most precious gift we can offer others is our presence. When mindfulness embraces those, we love, they will bloom like flowers.
Look around you.
Who could you offer your presence to?
Feeling truly seen and heard is such a gift, who could you offer that to today?