mindful conversation

I’m reading Chade-Meng Tan’s Search Inside Yourself: The unexpected path to achieving success, happiness (and world peace). Meng, who was employee #107 at Google and now leads the Search Inside Yourself Institute, combines mindfulness practice with emotional intelligence.

Chapter 3 is all about taking your meditation practice off the cushion. I’ve written briefly about this before – the point of meditating is to practice for your life. Meng says it another way: meditation becomes life-changing when you can bring up the calm and clear mind on demand. He says we can generalize mindfulness by taking it from self to others and from rest to activity.

Chapter three takes the reader through mindful conversation, walking meditation, tips for sustaining your practice beyond the beginning, joyful meditation, mastering focused and open attention, and how creating that clear, joyful mind on demand actually happens in practice.

mindful conversation

There are three components of mindful conversation.

Mindful listening

This is just like sitting meditation, except you bring your full attention to the person you’re listening to rather than your own breath. When your attention wanders, gently guide it back. You also try to refrain from speaking beyond acknowledging what the other person is saying. You’re giving them the airtime they deserve.

Listening is magic: it turns a person from an object outside, opaque or dimly threatening, into an intimate experience, and therefore into a friend. In this way, listening softens and transforms the listener.

– Norman Fischer


Short for closing the loop of communication.

Let’s say there are two people involved in this conversation – Allen and Becky – and it is Allen’s turn to speak. Allen speaks for awhile, and after he is done speaking, Becky loops back by saying what she thought she heard Allen say. After that, Allen gives feedback on what he thought was missing or misinterpreted. (…) Looping is a collaborative project in which both people work together to (fully understand each other).


Checking in with ourselves during the conversation.

The main reason we do not listen to others is that we get distracted by our own feelings and internal chatter, often in reaction to what the other person said. The best way to respond to these internal distractions is to notice and acknowledge them. Know they’re there, try not to judge them, and let them go if they are willing to go.

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