Be more interested than interesting

How mindfulness empowers us and others

By Linda Janasz

When you interact with someone who is distracted, how does it make you feel? Likely, you experience disconnection or even a sense of frustration. Perhaps they rush through conversations, or even check their phone. Not surprising, we instinctively feel detached when someone’s gaze wanders, as this affects the same brain region as when our mind wanders, as seen in neuroscience research. Studies even show that the act of checking one’s phone during conversation reduces our sense of connection.

Before Ian, the director of sales for a software manufacturer, started practicing mindfulness (a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment with acceptance), he often felt overwhelmed and distracted. He also noticed that his sales were declining.

“When I felt stressed, I found it difficult to be present during meetings,” Ian says. “Mindfulness has allowed me to show up and give my full attention to what I am doing. Not only has it enabled me to feel calmer and less stressed, but I am enjoying work and sales have notably improved.”

Ian now uses all of his interactions as an opportunity to practice being focused and engaged. Colleagues and clients see him as being more likable. Karen, an associate, said that she feels, “important and worthy in Ian’s presence.”

Managing and cultivating presence is a skill we can learn that has great value. Leaders naturally leverage this trait, influencing and empowering those around them. In contrast to the idea that some individuals naturally have this gift, studies have shown that we can strengthen our connections with others by practicing mindful presence. Not only does this practice bring more meaning and joy to our own experience, but it also has the power to improve and enhance professional and personal relationships.

9 Ways to Empower
Mindful Connections

1. Seeing eye to eye: Eye contact is one of the most powerful ways to connect and cultivate authentic connections by being present and engaged. Practice by using the mirror to sustain focus.

2. Patience during conversation: By paying full attention during conversations and not interrupting or rushing, you demonstrate care, thoughtfulness and compassion.

3. Be more interested than interesting: Rather than thinking about your next question, give your full attention and demonstrate interest.

4. Active listening: Be patient, focused and attentive. Try not to interrupt, but rather notice what the person is saying. Listen to both words and tone.

5. Enthusiasm: When warranted, encourage others by using authentic praise for their ideas and actions.

6. Modulate your speech patterns: Notice how modulating your speech may impact others. Vary the speed, pitch and tone to show interest and care.

7. Confidence: By focusing on someone else, we appear more authentic and relaxed. This practice can improve our confidence and reduces stress. By truly focusing on someone else, we get outside of our challenges and thoughts and become more engaged with others.

8. Savvy speaking: The only way to know your customer is to be fully present, which allows you to notice how others are responding to you. When you are speaking mindfully, your message becomes clear and you can be truly heard.

9. Approach interactions with a purpose: Whether you are leading, managing, buying or selling, show up and be present with each interaction. By practicing present awareness, you improve your ability to notice and be noticed.

By practicing mindful connections, you become more creative and intuitive, which leads to improved productivity and enhanced motivation. By being more interested than interesting, you show others that you hear them, see them and, most importantly, that you understand them. Finally, effectively connecting with others is one of the biggest indicators of success and joy.

Linda Janasz is a researcher, mindfulness practitioner, transformational coach, keynote speaker, and Registered Yoga Teacher (RYT 200) and holds a Ph.D. She developed a six-week Mindfulness, Meditation and Movement (MMM) Training program that has helped thousands of individuals in and out of the workplace. Visit mindmedmove.com for more information and upcoming programs.

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