, Volume 6, Issue 5, pp 1115–1128 | Cite as

The Impact of Mindfulness on Supportive Communication Skills: Three Exploratory Studies

  • Susanne M. Jones
  • Wesley Hansen


Supportive communication, which conveys care, empathy, and encouragement, plays a crucial role in how well people are able to cope with difficult emotions and aversive situations. But supportive communication can be conveyed more or less skilled. One possible mechanism that may link nonverbally and verbally conveyed emotional support and improved affective outcomes is mindfulness, conceived as enhanced nonreactive attention to and awareness of current internal and external stimuli. We present a theoretical model of mindful supportive communication and report the results of three exploratory studies that test the relationship between mindfulness and three factors that influence the supportive communication process, namely social skills, communicative coping, and reappraisals. Study 1 detected relationships between mindfulness facets and social skills. Studies 2 and 3 examine the impact of brief mindful interventions on social skills, communicative coping skills, and reappraisals.


Comforting Emotional support Mindfulness Mindful coping Positive reappraisal Social support Supportive communication 


Human Subjects Approval

The three studies have been approved by the Institutional Review Board at the university which is affiliated with the first author. Participants for study 1 received a consent agreement page. Participants for studies 2 and 3 provided informed consent.

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


  1. Algoe, S. B. (2012). Find, remind, and bind: the functions of gratitude in everyday relationships. Soc Personal Psychol Compass, 6(6), 455–469. doi: 10.1111/j.1751-9004.2012.00439.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Algoe, S. B., Fredrickson, B. L., & Gable, S. L. (2013). The social functions of the emotion of gratitude via expression. Emotion, 13(4), 605–609. doi: 10.1037/a0032701.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  3. Ambady, N., & Rosenthal, R. (1992). Thin slices of expressive behavior as predictors of interpersonal consequences: a meta-analysis. Psychol Bull, 111, 256–274.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Baer, R. A., Smith, G. T., Hopkins, J., Krietemeyer, J., & Toney, L. (2006). Using self-report assessment methods to explore facets of mindfulness. Assessment, 13(1), 27–45.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  5. Barbee, A. P., & Cunningham, M. R. (1995). An experimental approach to social support communications: interactive coping in close relationships. In B. R. Burleson (Ed.), Communication yearbook 18 (pp. 381–413). Thousand Oaks: Sage.Google Scholar
  6. Barrera, M., Sandler, I. N., & Ramsay, T. B. (1981). Preliminary development of a scale of social support: studies on college students. Am J Community Psychol, 9(4), 435–447. doi: 10.1007/BF00918174.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Baumeister, R. F., & Leary, M. R. (1995). The need to belong: desire for interpersonal attachment as a fundamental human motivation. Psychol Bull, 117, 497–529.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  8. Ben-Artzi, E., & Mikulincer, M. (1996). Lay theories of emotion: IV. Reactions to negative and positive emotional episodes. Imagin Cognit Persona, 16(1), 89–113.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Block-Lerner, J., Orsillo, S., & Plumb, J. (2004). Various ways of approaching emotional events: the effects of mindful awareness, positive thinking, and relaxation preparations (Paper presented at the L. Roemer (Chair), The role of emotion in anxiety disorders and intervention strategies: experimental investigations of emotional processes). New Orleans: Symposium conducted at the annual meeting of the Association for Advancement of Behavior Therapy.Google Scholar
  10. Bodenmann, G. (2005). Dyadic coping and its significance for marital functioning. In T. A. Revenson, K. Kayser, & G. Bodenmann (Eds.), Couples coping with stress: emerging perspectives on dyadic coping (pp. 33–49). Washigton, D.C.: American Psychological Association.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Bodie, G. D., & Burleson, B. R. (2008). Explaining variations in the effects of supportive messages. Commun Yearb, 32, 355–398.Google Scholar
  12. Bohlmeijer, E., ten Klooster, P. M., Fledderus, M., Veehof, M., & Baer, R. (2011). Psychometric properties of the five facet mindfulness questionnaire in depressed adults and development of a short form. Assessment, 18(3), 308–320.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  13. Brown, K. W., & Ryan, R. M. (2003). The benefits of being present: mindfulness and its role in psychological well-being. J Pers Soc Psychol, 84(4), 822–848.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  14. Burleson, B. R. (1981). A cognitive-developmental perspective on social reasoning processes. West J Commun, 45, 133–147.Google Scholar
  15. Burleson, B. R. (2003). Emotional support skill. In J. O. Greene & B. R. Burleson (Eds.), Handbook of communication and social interaction skills (pp. 551–594). Mahwah: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  16. Burleson, B. R., & Goldsmith, D. J. (1998). How the comforting process works: alleviating emotional distress through conversationally induced reappraisals. In P. A. Andersen & L. K. Guerrero (Eds.), Handbook of communication and emotion: research, theory, applications, and contexts (pp. 245–280). San Diego: Academic.Google Scholar
  17. Cannava, K., & Bodie, G. D. (2014). Mapping the topography of supportive talk: the similarity of language trends across relationships. Chicago: Paper presented at the National Communication Association.Google Scholar
  18. Christopher, M. S., Neuser, N. J., Michael, P. G., & Baitmangalkar, A. (2012). Exploring the psychometric properties of the five facet mindfulness questionnaire. Mindfulness, 3(2), 124–131.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Ciarrochi, J., & Kashdan, T. B. (2013). Mindfulness, acceptance, and positive psychology: the seven foundations of well-being: Context Press.Google Scholar
  20. de Bruin, E. I., Topper, M., Muskens, J. G., Bogels, S. M., & Kamphuis, J. H. (2012). Psychometric properties of the five facets mindfulness questionnaire (FFMQ) in a meditating and a non-meditating sample. Assessment, 19(2), 187–197.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  21. Farb, N. A., Anderson, A. K., Irving, J. A., & Segal, Z. V. (2014). Mindfulness interventions and emotion regulation. In J. J. Gross (Ed.), Handbook of emotion regulation (2nd ed., pp. 548–567). New York: Guilford.Google Scholar
  22. Field, T., Yando, R., Bendell, D., Hernandez-Reif, M., Diego, M., Vera, Y., & Gil, K. (2007). Prenatal depression effects on pregnancy feelings and substance use. J Child Adolesc Subst Abus, 17(1), 111–125.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Floyd, K., Mikkelson, A. C., Hesse, C., & Pauley, P. M. (2007). Affectionate writing reduces total cholesterol: two randomized, controlled trials. Human Communication Research, Vol.33(2), pp.Google Scholar
  24. Friedman, H. S., & Miller-Herringer, T. (1991). Nonverbal display of emotion in public and in private: self-monitoring, personality, and expressive cues. J Pers Soc Psychol, 61(5), 766–775.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  25. Garland, E. L., Gaylord, S., & Park, J. (2009). The role of mindfulness in positive reappraisal. Explor J Sci Health, 5(1), 37–44.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Garland, E. L., Gaylord, S. A., & Fredrickson, B. L. (2011). Positive reappraisal mediates the stress-reductive effects of mindfulness: an upward spiral process. Mindfulness, 2(1), 59–67.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Garland, E. L., Hanley, A., Farb, N. A., & Froeliger, B. (2013). State mindfulness during meditation predicts enhanced cognitive reappraisal. Mindfulness. doi: 10.1007/s12671-013-0250-6.Google Scholar
  28. Gerzina, H. A., & Porfeli, E. J. (2012). Mindfulness as a predictor of positive reappraisal and burnout in standardized patients. Teach Learn Med, 24(4), 309–314.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  29. Goldsmith, D. J. (2004). Communicating social support. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Grandey, A. A. (2003). When “the show must go on”: surface acting and deep acting as determinants of emotional exhaustion and peer-rated service delivery. Acad Manag J, 46(1), 86–96.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Guerrero, L. K., & Jones, S. M. (2003). Differences in one’s own and one’s partner’s perceptions of social skills as a function of attachment style. Commun Q, 51, 277–295.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Guerrero, L. K., & Reiter, R. L. (1998). Expressing emotion: sex differences in social skills and communicative responses to anger, sadness, and jealousy. In D. J. Canary & K. Dindia (Eds.), Sex differences and similarities in communication (pp. 321–350). Mahwah: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  33. Hanley, A., Garland, E. L., & Black, D. S. (2014). Use of mindful reappraisal coping among meditation practitioners. J Clin Psychol, 70(3), 294–301.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  34. Hayes, S. C., Strosahl, K. D., & Wilson, K. G. (2011). Acceptance and commitment therapy: the process and practice of mindful change (2nd. New York: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  35. Hayes-Skelton, S., & Graham, J. (2013). Decentering as a common link among mindfulness, cognitive reappraisal, and social anxiety. Behav Cogn Psychother, 41(3), 317–328.PubMedCentralCrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  36. Hölzel, B. K., Lazar, S. W., Gard, T., Schuman-Olivier, Z., Vago, D. R., & Ott, U. (2011). How does mindfulness meditation work? Proposing mechanisms of action from a conceptual and neural perspective. Perspect Psychol Sci, 6(6), 537–559.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  37. Holt-Lunstad, J., Smith, T. B., & Layton, B. (2010). Social relationships and mortality: A meta-analysis. PLoS Med, 7, 1–20. doi: 10.1371/journal.pmed.1000316
  38. Jones, S. M. (2004). Putting the person into person-centered and immediate emotional support: emotional change and perceived helper competence as outcomes of comforting in helping situations. Commun Res, 32, 338–360.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Jones, S. M., & Wirtz, J. G. (2006). How does the comforting process work?: an empirical test of an appraisal-based model of comforting. Hum Commun Res, 32, 217–243.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Klimecki, O. M., Leiberg, S., Lamm, C., & Singer, T. (2013). Functional neural plasticity and associated changes in positive affect after compassion training. Cereb Cortex, 23(7), 1552–1561.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  41. Kok, B. E., Coffey, K. A., Cohn, M. A., Catalino, L. I., Vacharkulksemsuk, T., Algoe, S. B., & Fredrickson, B. L. (2013). How positive emotions build physical health perceived positive social connections account for the upward spiral between positive emotions and vagal tone. Psychol Sci, 24(7), 1123–1132.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  42. Lakey, B. (2013). Perceived social support and happiness: the role of personality and relational processes. In S. A. David, I. Boniwell, & A. Conley Ayers (Eds.), The Oxford handbook of happiness (pp. 847–859). Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  43. Lakey, B., & Orehek, E. (2011). Relational regulation theory: a new approach to explain the link between perceived social support and mental health. Psychol Rev, 118(3), 482–495.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  44. Lazarus, R. S. (1991). Emotion and adaptation. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  45. Lazarus, R. S., & Folkman, S. (1984). Stress, appraisal, and coping. New York: Springer.Google Scholar
  46. Liehr, P., Marcus, M. T., Carroll, D., Granmayeh, L., Cron, S. G., & Pennebaker, J. W. (2010). Linguistic analysis to assess the effect of a mindfulness intervention on self-change for adults in substance use recovery. Subst Abus, 31(2), 79–85.PubMedCentralCrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  47. Linehan, M. (1993). Skills Training Manual for Treating Borderline Personality Disorder. New York: Guilford.Google Scholar
  48. MacGeorge, E. L., Guntzviller, L. M., Hanasono, L. K., & Feng, B. (2013). testing advice response theory in interactions with friends. Commun Res. doi: 10.1177/0093650213510938.Google Scholar
  49. Maisel, N. C., & Gable, S. L. (2009). The paradox of received social support: The importance of responsiveness. Psychol Sci, 20(8), 928–932.Google Scholar
  50. Neacsiu, A. D., Rizvi, S. L., Vitaliano, P. P., Lynch, T. R., & Linehan, M. M. (2010). The dialectical behavior therapy ways of coping checklist: development and psychometric properties. J Clin Psychol, 66(6), 563–582.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  51. North, R. J., Meyerson, R. L., Brown, D. N., & Holahan, C. J. (2013). The language of psychological change: decoding an expressive writing paradigm. J Lang Soc Psychol, 32(2), 142–161.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Radloff, L. S. (1977). The CES-D Scale: A self-report depression scale for research in the general population. Appl Psychol Meas, 1, 385–401.Google Scholar
  53. Reber, C. A., Boden, M. T., Mitragotri, N., Alvarez, J., Gross, J. J., & Bonn-Miller, M. O. (2013). A prospective investigation of mindfulness skills and changes in emotion regulation among military veterans in posttraumatic stress disorder treatment. Mindfulness, 4(4), 311–317. doi: 10.1007/s12671-012-0131-4.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Reinhardt, J. P. P., Boerner, K., & Horowitz, A. (2006). Good to have but not to use: differential impact of perceived and received support on well-being. J Soc Pers Relat, 23(1), 117–129.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Riggio, R. E. (1986). Assessment of basic social skills. J Pers Soc Psychol, 51, 649–660.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Riggio, R. E. (1992). Social interaction skills and nonverbal behavior. In D. C. Feldman (Ed.), Applications of nonverbal behavioral theories and research (pp. 3–30). New York: Psychology Press.Google Scholar
  57. Riggio, R. E., & Carney, D. R. (2003). Social skills inventory manual: Mind Garden.Google Scholar
  58. Riggio, R. E., & Friedman, H. S. (1981). The interrelations of self-monitoring factors, personality traits, and nonverbal social skills. J Nonverbal Behav, 7, 33–45.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Riggio, R. E., & Riggio, H. R. (2005). Self-report measures of emotional and nonverbal expressiveness. In V. Manusov (Ed.), The sourcebook of nonverbal measures: going beyond words (pp. 105–111). Mahwah: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  60. Riggio, R. E., Tucker, J., & Coffaro, D. (1989). Social skills and empathy. Personal Individ Differ, 10(1), 93–99.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Riggio, R. E., Throckmorton, B., & DePaola, S. (1990). Social skills and self-esteem. Personal Individ Differ, 11(8), 799–804.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Riggio, R. E., Watring, K. P., & Throckmorton, B. (1993). Social skills, social support, and psychosocial adjustment. Personal Individ Differ, 15(3), 275–280.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Ross, L. T., Lutz, C. J., & Lakey, B. (1999). Perceived social support and attributions for failed support. Personal Soc Psychol Bull, 25, 896–909.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Seager, W. (2007). A brief history of philosophical problem of consciousness. In P. Zelazo, M. Moscovitch, & E. Thompson (Eds.), The Cambridge handbook of consciousness (pp. 9–33). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Singer, T., & Bolz, M. (Eds.). (2013). Compassion: bridging practice and science [e-book]. Munich: Max Planck Society.Google Scholar
  66. Spielberger, C. D. (1980). Manual for the state-trait anxiety inventory (STAI). Palo Alto, CA: Consulting Psychologists Press.Google Scholar
  67. Spielberger, C. D. (1988). Manual for the state-trait anger expression inventory. Odessa, FL: Psychological Assessment Resources.Google Scholar
  68. Thoits, P. A. (1995). Stress, coping, and social support processes: where are we? What next? J Health Soc Behav, 53–79.Google Scholar
  69. Thoits, P. A. (2011). Mechanisms linking social ties and support to physical and mental health. J Health Soc Behav, 52(2), 145–161.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  70. Tucker, J. S., & Riggio, R. E. (1988). The role of social skills in encoding posed and spontaneous facial expressions. J Nonverbal Behav, 12(2), 87–97.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  71. Uchino, B. N., Carlisle, M., Birmingham, W., & Vaughn, A. A. (2010). Social support and the reactivity hypothesis: conceptual issues in examining the efficacy of received support during acute psychological stress. Biol Psychol. doi: 10.1016/j.biopsycho.2010.04.003.PubMedCentralPubMedGoogle Scholar
  72. Wachs, K., & Cordova, J. V. (2007). Mindful relating: exploring mindfulness and emotion repertoires in intimate relationships. J Marital Fam Ther, 33(4), 464–481.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  73. Weinstein, N., Brown, K. W., & Ryan, R. M. (2009). A multi-method examination of the effects of mindfulness on stress attribution, coping, and emotional well-being. J Res Pers, 43(3), 374–385.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  74. Williams, M. J., Dalgleish, T., Karl, A., & Kuyken, W. (2014). Examining the factor structures of the five facet mindfulness questionnaire and the self-compassion scale. Psychol Assess Feb. doi: 10.1037/a0035566.Google Scholar
  75. Wyer, R. S., Jr., & Adaval, R. (2003). Message reception skills in social communication. In J. O. Greene & B. R. Burleson (Eds.), Handbook of communication and social interaction skills (pp. 291–355). Mahwah: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  76. Yankeelov, P. A., Barbee, A. P., Cunningham, M. R., & Druen, P. B. (1995). The influence of negative medical diagnoses and verbal and nonverbal support activation strategies on the interactive coping process. J Nonverbal Behav, 19(4), 243–260.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Communication StudiesUniversity of MinnesotaMinneapolisUSA

Personalised recommendations