In this book, The Art of Communicating, Thich Nhat Hanh states: ‘Loneliness is the suffering of our time. Even if we’re surrounded by others, we can feel very alone. We are lonely together.’ He explains how technology supplies us with many ways to help us stay connected – such as the Internet, e-mail, video conferencing, texting, posting, apps, letters and phones – yet our communications may be lacking in genuine meaning. Quite simply, many of us have forgotten how to connect with ourselves. And if we are out of touch with ourselves, how can we ever expect to communicate authentically with other people?
As ever, not only does Thich Nhat Hanh identify the problem; he offers solutions. He sets out the practical techniques of mindfulness to help us orientate ourselves in the present moment, to reach out to others and take responsibility for our thoughts and actions. ‘When you produce a thought, it bears your signature,’ he says. Communication isn’t static and our words, thoughts and physical actions will continue to have an impact on the future even after we are gone…
At a time when it’s very easy to become caught up in a whirlwind of distractions – to pride ourselves on our number of ‘followers’, for instance, rather than our true friends and family – Thich Nhat Hanh’s is a calm voice, guiding us back to the real art of communicating.
Despite all of our best intentions, communication is still a challenge for most of us. How do we say what we mean in a way that the other person can really hear? How can we learn to listen with compassion and understanding? Why do people communicate so differently and how can we reach across our differences to strengthen our relationships?
Using examples from his own experience working with couples, families, workplace colleagues, and international conflicts, celebrated spiritual leader Thich Nhat Hanh reveals five steps to truly mindful communication. By focusing on concrete and accessible practices, The Art of Communicating provides the key to communicating with yourself, loved ones, colleagues and new acquaintances more effectively, with kindness and mindfulness.
‘There is a saying in Vietnamese, ‘It doesn’t cost anything to have loving speech.’ We only need to choose our words carefully, and we can make other people happy. To use words mindfully, with loving kindness, is to practice generosity. We can make many people happy just by practicing loving speech.’ – Thich Nhat Hanh
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