Mindful speaking and listening

What are mindful speaking and mindful listening? Care over the use of speech is one of the Five Precepts taken by Buddhists of all disciplines.  Thich Nhat Hanh has expanded the wording of the precept in a very beautiful and loving way:

Aware of the suffering caused by unmindful speech and the inability to listen to others, I am committed to cultivating loving speech and deep listening in order to bring joy and happiness to others and relieve others of their suffering. Knowing that words can create happiness or suffering, I am determined to speak truthfully, with words that inspire self-confidence, joy and hope. I will not spread news that I do not know to be certain and will not criticise or condemn things of which I am not sure. I will refrain from uttering words that can cause division or discord, or that can cause the family or the community to break. I am determined to make all efforts to reconcile and resolve all conflicts, however small.

When we speak to the Group we try to follow these guidelines and it is obviously enormously beneficial if we can carry this practice into our everyday lives.

Speaking from the heart The period of sharing is a valuable opportunity to speak from the heart to a supportive community.  It is a chance to highlight something from the Dharma reading or to share the fruits and difficulties of our practice, time to speak from the heart about our personal experience, and to support each other by mindful, non-judgemental listening.