It’s no secret that mindfulness, the quality of present moment awareness, is a powerful force for positive change. What was once a practice reserved for the spiritual has now become essential in mainstream life. Today, mindfulness practice has stretched beyond our personal lives and into company culture by world leaders including Google, Nike, Apple and Intel- and for good reason. Mindfulness has been shown to have a positive impact on business- improving employee productivity, concentration and patience, while reducing stress. As a manager, implementing a mindfulness culture can make your job not only easier but also more enjoyable. This article will give you three things to practice to set a tone of mindfulness at work.
As a manager dealing with employees with different working styles, patience is essential in maintaining good relationships with your team. Employees don’t want to work under an irritable or testy manager, so you’re much more likely to have your employees respond favourably if you’re patient with them. But patience takes conscious effort, especially when you’re busy, so it’s something you must continually work at.
So, if you’re about to have a challenging conversation or feel impatience bubbling up, acknowledge the feeling, pause and breathe.
Breathe in for four counts, hold for four counts and breathe out for six counts. Repeat this ten times to refocus your attention and bring you back into the present moment- your conversations will be better for it.
How often are you planning a response instead of fully listening to what someone is saying? Whether or not we realise it, this tendency holds us back from having meaningful conversations and can make them longer and more complicated than they need to be. Active listening is listening with full attention, without interruption, judgement, or planning a response, and is important in and outside the office.
As a manager, you may feel you already have an answer for an employee before they’ve finished explaining. It’s important though, to practice active listening- giving full attention to the words, body language, and meaning of what the speaker is saying. In doing this, you’ll give yourself the best chance to understand what’s being communicated, and makes them feel truly heard. Active listening also has the power to diffuse difficult conversations, so it’s important to include in your managers toolbox.
Being a successful manager also requires a good level of self-awareness. How do you respond when faced with challenges or obstacles? How do your co-workers and employees perceive you and your actions? Practicing mindfulness allows you to tune in to how you’re coming across to those around you. With this awareness, you’ll be able to act more thoughtfully and communicate with the impact you intend.
Throughout your day, check-in with your mood and emotions and think about how they may be affecting your interactions. If you’re feeling stressed and overwhelmed, chances are that stressed energy is spilling over into your interactions. This can have a ripple effect on your team, so it’s important to stay on top of it.
Take time to pause, take those conscious breaths and re-evaluate how you can approach the day with intention and clarity. Ten minutes to check-in with yourself and develop a plan can save you a lot of time throughout the day.
Being mindful allows you to choose how you interact with your employees and the energy you spend on things. Now, you’ll hopefully have a better understanding of how mindful managing can benefit you, and a few tools to help you implement it. Think of mindfulness as a muscle- the more regularly you exercise it, the stronger it will become. And the stronger your mindfulness muscle is, the more useful it will be in the times you need it most- be it a busy week or a company-wide crisis.