Want to boost workplace productivity, creativity, and teamwork -- and reduce stress? How about a research-backed method favored by Google, Proctor and Gamble and the US Marines? Try living in the moment. Mindfulness, or the mental state achieved by being aware of and accepting the present, has taken the business world by storm. Everyone wants in on this emerging movement - but how? Here are three ways you can bring your company into the Age of Mindfulness.
1. Deep Listening:
"If we are to survive in the twentieth century," David Rome and Hope Martin told Mindful Magazine, "we must become better communicators". Rome, founder of the Mindful Focusing training program, and Martin, posture and meditation coach, are pioneers of "Deep Listening", a method that builds on the popular active listening technique.
Deep Listening is based on self-awareness - knowing what you're feeling physically and emotionally. By keeping track of your reactions as you listen, you're better able to understand and respond to the speaker. Encourage employees to approach you with comments or concerns, and listen mindfully to what they tell you. Make eye contact and don't interrupt with your opinion. Notice their body language. And remember: even if you disagree with them completely, they're speaking from a place of personal truth.
2. Reinvent Routine:
A day in the office can deteriorate into a lineup of routine tasks. Avoid burnout by taking one part of your daily routine and approaching it as a newcomer. Send out weekly emails to encourage employees to choose a mundane moment, like booting up a computer or checking email, and experience it fully.
Here's how: find a comfortable position and tune in to your body. Notice your position: how does it feel to sit? To breathe? Follow your thoughts and note to yourself that you are thinking. What is opening your browser really like, when every aspect of the experience is considered? Starting the day with a mindful moment can give you the mental push to make the day count.
3. Encourage Autonomy:
"Mindfulness," says researcher Richard Davidson, "is a way of taking responsibility for your own mind". Business leaders who insist that all their employees incorporate the same mindful habits, then, are missing the point. Provide support and encouragement through meetings and email reminders, but ultimately let your employees find what works for them.
Go a step further by replacing checklists with thought-provoking questions. "The first time you go through a checklist, it's fine," says mindfulness researcher Ellen Langer. "But after that, most people tend to do it mindlessly. So in aviation you have flaps up, throttle open, anti-ice off. But if snow is coming and the anti-ice is off, the plane crashes". Instead, she suggests questions that prompt mindfulness: "Please note the weather conditions. Based on these conditions, should the anti-ice be on or off?"
The business world needs mindful thinking. "Employees...want to make an impact in the world, says Yaakov Lehman, founder of the mindfulness teaching collective Wisdom Tribe. "They want their voices heard. They want to continually develop their cognitive and emotional intelligence. Mindfulness is one practice that resonates deeply with this sensibility".
By encouraging mindfulness, you maximize your company's biggest asset: brainpower. With these three mindful habits - deep listening, immersion in mundane moments, and autonomous thinking - you can develop a workplace culture of trust, resilience, and collaboration.