Take any moment of your life, and ask yourself if, in that moment, you were thinking about something that might happen or something that has happened.
In Dan Huston’s experience, most people raise their hand when asked that question. The NHTI professor and SEA member says that our ability to communicate in that moment is hampered by thoughts of the future or the past.
“Developing the ability to be fully present and in the moment is useful if you’re trying to become a better communicator,” he said.
Huston has been teaching students and faculty at NHTI just how to do that for 15 years, something he calls “mindful communication.”
He’s also written a book, and is currently a finalist for a Bellwether Award, which is handed out at this weekend’s Community College Futures Assembly conference. At the conference, he’ll have the opportunity to present his program and will be joined by Dawn Higgins, a colleague at NHTI and fellow SEA member, and David Luneau, a member of NHTI’s advisory board.
Huston appreciates the fact that so many on campus have taken to his idea. The standalone communications studies course has even been incorporated into other disciplines.
“It’s extremely gratifying to have so many faculty now have taken the course and have benefited from it and have it spill over into their courses,” he said.
Along the way, he’s been told the mindful communication course helps in a surprising area: math.
First, he explains, math stresses people out, and the course “helps them to focus.”
Second, people discover they’ve been engaged in a self-fulfilling prophesy when it comes to math: “They’ve got the belief they can’t do it, so they don’t try.”
“When they stop listening to that kind of storyline, it frees them up to do better,” Huston said. “That surprised me.”
Huston said he’s looking forward to this weekend’s conference and is hopeful his program will win the Bellwether Award.
“It’d be nice to win, but even if we don’t, I’m looking forward to making contacts and seeing what other people are doing,” he said.
The bigger bonus, though, is that he’ll get to share his idea with a new group of people.
“I really believe in this curriculum,” Huston said. “I’ve seen over and over, people who have taken the course improve their relationship with a spouse, boss or children. They’re happier, more productive human beings.”
“And anytime that happens, that’s really gratifying, and I feel really happy and lucky,” he said.
If he does win the award, that would likely mean wider distribution of his book, and provide an opportunity for his program to grow.
“It would give more credibility to the program, and that would allow us to expand it,” he said.
Huston said he’ll be presenting his program Monday at the conference. We’ll be sure to give you an update after the conference.