Often we think of mindfulness as a distinct act taken at a set time. Perhaps we take a mindfulness break or practice Yoga to attain a state of mindfulness. When I consider where mindfulness fits I recognize it as a state of being we should seek to attain.
In business we often compartmentalize our emotions from our thoughts. We segregate the events of our day into meetings (extroversion), email (transaction), coaching (transformation), planning (introversion) and more. Then we remember that we have not been mindful in this situation or that instance.
If we make the effort to become mindful rather than to step in and out of mindfulness I believe that each activity we engage in will be enriched. Getting to this place may be easy for some and difficult for others. But as you begin to live mindfully you will experience positive changes in everything you do.
Let’s consider some practical steps applied to the situations mentioned above.
1. Meetings require a lot of us. Whether we are defending a proposal, developing a strategy or just attending for information a little mindfulness can go a long way in making our attendance more productive and positive. Prepare by focusing yourself before the meeting. Not merely on goals and outcomes, but also on calm, balance, openness and awareness.
Breathe deeply before responding to anything that is said. This will help you think more clearly and assure that you have time to process before responding.
2. Coaching requires a connection with your coachee. If you have not been in a coaching relationship with this person before you will need to set the time. Again, being mindful will help you to prepare yourself to hear as well as lead.
3. Sending emails can be quite tricky, especially when we are very busy, stressed or distracted. Creating a sense of mindfulness prior to responding to emails may mean the difference between escalating or de-escalating a situation. Think about this. When you are emotionally wrapped up in a concern of yours do you want to receive an email with “just the facts maam’” or would you feel better if the person on the other end acknowledged your frustration and agreed to work with you on a solution. Taking that deep breath before writing your response (and perhaps holding it in reserve to review again before sending) can be all that is needed to turn a bad situation into a good relationship.
4. Finally, I mentioned planning. For administrators and executives this is a central facet of our work. We need facts,impact projections and more to plan for the future, often in multinational organizations. Facts alone won’t get you to the right plan. Try taking a few moments to center yourself before you consider options and actions to take. This could mean the difference between an ‘okay’ plan and a ‘brilliant new idea”.
In every instance mindfulness can help you to identify the best response in that moment. In fact, once you have begun to focus on being mindful your relationships will improve in both work and personal settings. After all, everyone appreciates being taken seriously!
“Decide now to make mindfulness a habit!”– cea