The practice of mindfulness has boomed in popularity over the years. Inspired by the Buddhist principles of Sati and Vipassanā, mindfulness has been the inspiration for many therapeutic techniques in the field of psychiatry and clinical psychology, which are to this day used to manage conditions like depression, anxiety, and chronic stress.
But mindfulness can be employed by anyone, and is especially useful within a work context. A company we have had dealings with before – an IT support provider London businesses get all of their technical support needs from – said that they have considered offering mindfulness training to staff.
What is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is a practice which aims to help you bring your attention to the present and, at the same time, avoiding any form of judgement – whether it be of your surroundings, of events, or of other people. Mindfulness is developed with practice, which involves meditation and various other forms of training that help you cultivate the right state of mind.
Most people spend inordinate amounts of time thinking outside of the here and now. The IT support company we spoke to confirmed as much, saying that they often expect staff to become distracted throughout the day. People often dwell on memories of past events, or thinking about the future; or else one might imagine what is happening elsewhere, or what other people are doing or thinking. Really, there are endless ways in which the average person diverts their attention from themselves and the present. But bringing that attention back to oneself, in the here and now, can have many benefits.
Benefits of Mindfulness
1. Better Focus
Many of the forms of training involved with mindfulness are concerned with teaching you how to focus and channel your attention – in the context of mindfulness, it is about bringing your attention back to the present, your body, and your mind, and keeping it there. But the skill of being able to draw your attention to something and hold it there can be applied to any task that you might need to focus on.
2. Improved Communications
Effective communication is an absolutely essential quality in business. If you are a leader in business, you absolutely need to have strong and effective communication, so that the people who work with you and for you understand what it is you expect from them. Research suggests that people who practice mindful communication are more open to different opinions, more inclined to relinquish control and trust others, and are more transparent and accurate about their own strengths and weaknesses.
3. Reduced Workplace Conflicts
Following on from the previous point, people who practice mindfulness have been found to exhibit more humility than those who do not – which is conducing to effective conflict resolution. What is more, mindfulness makes individuals more adept at finding perspective in a situation – most workplace conflicts arise from people becoming increasingly subjective in their ability to assess a situation; when disagreements on a task arise, it quickly becomes about them rather than about the task. Mindfulness can help people identify when their focus is shifting, and bring it back to where it needs to be, which may prevent people from initiative conflicts in the first place.
4. Increased Helpfulness
Some research has indicated that practicing mindfulness made people more helpful and generous at work. The case was with the choice to donate money to a cause pertaining to a co-worker. The study indicated that mindful individuals were more inclined to dedicate money (and also time) to others.
5. Emotional Intelligence
As a large part of mindfulness is about learning to look inwards, there is great potential for individuals to develop emotional intelligence. This is the ability for people to identify and assess their own emotions, and has many positive impacts on the way people relate to themselves and others. Emotional intelligence is an incredibly useful quality to have in the context of work. Being able to empathise with colleagues, for example, can make collaboration much more effective, and boost employee relations. As a manager or business leader, emotional intelligence foster more compassion, which can inspire loyalty.