What’s the point of mindfulness in the workplace?
Mindfulness – it’s everywhere isn’t it?!
Every other article on LinkedIn, in the Sunday papers and popping up in your Twitter feed talks about how mindfulness is the route to happiness and can change your life forever.
But what does it really mean and how can it help in the workplace?
“Mindfulness is awareness that arises through paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgementally…”
So often we are not paying attention in our lives. In order to get everything done we are running on autopilot and reacting to things as they arise. When we bring awareness to what is happening in a ‘mindful’ way we start to create choices in our lives that we didn’t previously have.
Seeing what is
One of the traps many of us fall into is getting caught up in the way things ‘should‘ be rather than seeing them as they are.
An example could look a little like this:
Someone was supposed to hand a report in today and they haven’t. We take the view that they should have completed it and, because they haven’t, spend time getting anxious, cross or frustrated with them. We get caught in the trap of what ‘should‘ have happened.
If we are mindful in this situation, we remain in a more resourceful state. We notice what has happened – the report hasn’t been handed in by the requested time. We’re also able to notice if we’re about to jump to an internal dialogue about how it ‘should‘ be different and let that judgement go. In this mindset we can find out why it hasn’t been handed in and take the necessary steps to move forward.
Seeing the situation without a narrative of how it ‘should‘ be is much less stressful. Everyone concerned is likely to be in a more resourceful state to work out how to ensure deadlines are met in the future or make sure potential delays are communicated effectively.
Hearing what is
We often listen to other people (or ourselves) through a filter.
It may be thoughts or beliefs about how something should be or it could be that we are affected by the way we are feeling at that moment. Perhaps something frustrating has happened at home and we come to work carrying that feeling with us. When a colleague asks or tells us something, we respond from how we’re feeling, rather than responding to what is actually being said.
When we are mindful of and present to our feelings, we can choose to acknowledge or put the frustration aside, either before coming into work or when we notice it during the conversation. This can help us hear what is being said without any emotional residue.
Communicating what is
Whether we’re talking about how it is between you and other people or between you and yourself, successful communication is vital to the quality of your life and the effectiveness of your working environment. When our communication is “off” in any of these, relationships can suffer.
When we are mindful in our communication (noticing not only how we are but also how the other person is) and are clear about what we want to communicate, we bring a greater awareness to the situation. With this awareness we can move away from blaming ourselves or other people and move towards desirable outcomes. We can also respond, rather than react, in a way that works for everyone.
Knowing this moment is all it is
Much of the stress and anxiety we experience in our lives, whether at home, work or play comes from the past or future. We worry about how things could have been done differently in the past or we catastrophise about what might happen in the future.
When we become mindful, we notice that all we have is this present moment. Dealing with just this moment is much easier than wanting to change what’s past or what might come in the future. Being OK with the fact that we neither need to cling to this moment nor push it away but just be in it as it happens, can create a much calmer, less stressful experience of life.
Thinking about what is
So other than having more effective relationships, less stress and anxiety and being calmer, how does being mindful benefit the working day?
When we have uncluttered our minds we have space to think clearly. When we create that space, we can see what’s important to us and make useful choices and decisions about how to achieve our visions and dreams – fulfilling ourselves both personally and professionally.