Understanding mindfulness

In this article, Prof. Ting-Toomey argues for mindful inquiry as a way to cultivate intercultural competence. This refers to being fully aware, sensitive, and empathetic in observation, listening, and communication.

“ ‘M-I-N-D-F-U-L’ stands for Mindfulness In the moment Now with Deepening of the Five senses to Understand and to Learn and relearn.” (Ting-Toomey, 2015: 6, 26)

The above sentence summarizes nicely what it means to be mindful. Ting-Toomey points out that practicing mindfulness requires people to look inwardly and prepare their minds for new perspectives. This practice helps people move from being ethnocentric to ethnorelative and to shift frames of reference.

According to Toomey, mindfulness has five key components:

  • Present at the moment (awareness)
  • Knowing about knowing (metacognition)
  • Knowing (cognition)
  • Affective monitoring (emotion)
  • Communicating about communication (metacommunication)

The article explains how these can help people in crossing cultures: being attentive, sensitively conscious, non-judgmental, ready to respond and interact appropriately. The goal is to balance between effectiveness (achieving mutually shared goals) and appropriateness (perceived as proper and expected).

“A mindful intercultural communication is an adaptive individual who has a strong present-in-the-moment orientation with cognitive, affective, and behavioral flexibility.”

Please note her descriptions of how mindful inquiry entails four skills related to observation, listening, attunement, and reframing. And let us know which aspects of mindfulness provided new or helpful insights for you.

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This article is from the free online course:

Intercultural Communication

Shanghai International Studies University (SISU)