How to Communicate Like a Buddhist: An Overview

May 1, 2019 | Episode #40
We're discussing key insights from Cynthia Kane's amazing book How to Communicate Like a Buddhist. Then, a quick tool for Microsoft Outlook.

How to Communicate Like a Buddhist

Make Life Easier

How to Communicate Like a Buddhist by Cynthia Kane has quickly become one of my all-time favorite books!

We’re going to dive into some specifics for the book in a sec! But suffice to say, if you’re going to read any book I’ve recommended so far, it should be this one.

If you’re at all interested in improving communication with yourself and with others, this book is for you.

1. Be kind to yourself

Cynthia points out that it’s quite difficult to communicate well with others if you communicate poorly with yourself.

Begin paying attention to the things you tell yourself

  • Are you constantly berating yourself?
  • Are you putting yourself down?
  • Do you find that you engage in a lot of negative self-talk?

Our stories become habits

“Be mindful of your thoughts during the day, and when you hear yourself punishing or judging yourself through negative self-talk, try to identify the feeling behind it. Are you feeling insecure, ashamed, anxious, stressed, guilty, critical, or righteous? What is the fear behind it? What are you afraid of?

Remember, it’s okay to be sad, to feel overwhelmed. Anything you are feeling is okay. The next question to ask yourself is, How can I help myself feel better in this moment? What would I do without this thought?”

We can detach from the stories we tell ourselves

Here are a few quotes from the book that help illustrate this:

  • “How to detach from stories: see the story as a story, and remember that you don’t have to believe it. Come into the present moment by focusing on how you feel and determine what you truly need to feel better instead of focusing on what is wrong with the other person or the event that’s activating the feeling inside you.”
  • “It’s a beautiful moment when you begin to notice yourself stuck in a story, because it’s then you can choose not to believe it. To say to yourself, This story isn’t true. This isn’t my story. I don’t have to fall for this voice of lack. The phrases are very basic but extremely powerful.”

2. The litmus test: Is it Kind, Helpful, and True?

This is an amazing, simple litmus test to apply to all of your communication: Consider if each thing you’re saying or thinking is Kind, Helpful, and True.

I find that the speech being Kind and Helpful are the most important. That’s because I find that sometimes the truth can be unkind and vice-versa.

3. Learning to respond instead of react

  • Cynthia explains that a reaction is an instantaneous action, one without thought
  • Whereas a response is deliberate and with thought
  • To learn to respond, you need to identify your habitual reactions.
  • Then, “observe the want to automatically react, pause, identify the feeling associated with the initial reaction (have you felt this before?), see yourself and the other person with compassion, and identify what you can do to make yourself feel better. Put it together in a sentence: action + feeling + what you need to feel better.”

4. Remember you’re not perfect

This quote from the book had a profound impact on me. It gave me license to be myself, to make mistakes, and to separate my identity from my mistakes:

Just because you did something in that moment does not mean that action represents who you are all the time.

5. Practice loving-kindness meditation

I’ve found this simple meditation exercise to be crazy beneficial. It’s so simple, it can be done almost anywhere and at any time, and it produces great results.

First, select a couple of mantras from this list (or create your own):

  • May you feel loved
  • May you feel peace
  • May you be free from suffering
  • May you feel safe
  • May you know joy
  • May you be happy

I picked may you feel loved and may you know joy.

Then, follow the technique below:

  1. Close your eyes
  2. Bring a person (see list below) to mind
  3. Recite the mantras for that person
  4. Sit with feelings for a minute
  5. Shift attention to next person
  6. Repeat until you’re through the list
  7. Open your eyes

Here’s the list of people:

  1. Someone you cherish
  2. Yourself
  3. Someone you don’t really know
  4. A difficult person
  5. All beings
  6. Self again

Shopping trip experiment

Back in #38: How to Beat Procrastination with The 5 Second Rule, I mentioned I was going on a shopping trip from hell: Ikea and Costco on a weekend afternoon.

Those stores are usually slammed on weekends. So, I decided to put my newfound techniques to the test.

I have to say, they work very well. This is why I love this book so much!

Grab my free PDF with excerpts from the book

I have a one-page PDF with my favorite excerpts from the book.

It’s free, and you can grab it by clicking here.

Outlook Reminders on Top

Make Work Easier

If you use Outlook at work, and you’ve ever missed a meeting, this is a great tool!

It’s called Outlook Reminders on Top, and you can try it out for free! Plus, it’s only $7 to upgrade.

Here’s what it does:

  • Forces Outlook’s meetings popup to appear on top of your other windows (so you can’t accidentally hide them)
  • Prevents you from minimizing the reminders (again, so you don’t accidentally hide them)
  • Keeps alerting you every few minutes until you address the notification

Try it by clicking here!

My Florida vacation!

Finally, just a quick recap. Short story: Florida was amazing! Miami, Orlando, Clearwater, 80 degrees and sun. That’s all.

Me & Kevin on the pier at Clearwater Beach in Clearwater, FL

Me & Kevin on the pier at Clearwater Beach in Clearwater, FL

Get the Free Download!

15 Strategies for Getting More Done in a Day

I have a fantastic freebie I'd love to send to you. It's a one-page guide that covers my favorite 15 strategies for making the most out of every day.

Click below to grab this download now!

What’s Next?

Take Advil for Emotional Pain?

Take Advil for Emotional Pain?

Gretchen & Elizabeth, in ep. 97 of Happier with Gretchen Rubin, suggest that you can take Advil to help soothe emotional pain.

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