Mindful Employees Build Happier Workplaces
Imagine a typical scenario at work – your team has been stuck for hours inside a conference room, tensions are high, productivity is low and the deadline is too near for comfort. We experience and tackle similar situations frequently in our workspaces. But when repeated too often, these same experiences lead to employee burnouts, dysfunctional teams and toxic workplaces.
Typically, our first instinct is to judge such a situation based on each other’s body language, words and temperaments. However, this slow and possibly unnoticeable breakdown within teams and organisations in fact begins in the mind. Our external behaviours are just a mirror of the internal landscape. Such high pressure, highly competitive, and often hierarchical work environments affect our emotions, feelings, instincts and responses in ways we don’t always recognise. Fortunately, the solution to this lies in the mind as well. With mindfulness, one can become not only more aware of oneself but the surroundings as well, to be better equipped to understand and deal with them.
So what exactly is Mindfulness?
We can explain it as a state of deep awareness that heightens an individual’s understanding and acceptance of their own moods and emotions, while also enhancing the ability to recognise others’ moods and emotions.
Why it’s needed in a work environment?
While mindfulness initially gained recognition as a powerful stress buster, today we have unraveled many other facets to this practice, which directly impact productivity as well as performance. For example, mindfulness techniques are great to lower inhibitions between team members, thus enhancing communication, collaboration and ultimately team dynamics and performance.
How can it help?
Build better interpersonal skills
By increasing empathy, mindfulness helps individuals in a team better understand each others’ challenges, strengths, styles of working and communicating etc. As the synergies between team members increase so does the overall efficiency of the unit.
One of the key benefits of this technique is the ability to step away from a situation, with calm and clarity to tackle it in the most effective way. This is especially helpful to navigate tricky and complex situations that one may encounter in a work environment, such as giving and receiving criticism, especially from one’s superiors.
As a technique, mindfulness works with an individual’s internal state as well as its relation to the outer world. Hence, it innately helps bring out the best in a person vis-a-vis their external environment, including the people they work with. This acts as the trigger to build trust, bonding and collaboration.
Foster constructive communication
For any group to work together unitedly and efficiently, communication is key. Teams must be able to communicate in the simplest and most effective way to achieve their collective goal.
The practice of mindfulness equips one with a variety of techniques and tools to enhance communication, such as better listening skills, the ability to build on each other’s ideas, responding to feedback, accepting and giving constructive criticism and thinking on the feet.
Know and strengthen your team dynamics
A group of people where each one is working with a different agenda or goal is not a team. For any team to be successful, cohesion and a common purpose is necessary. A strong team is one where each person has a strong sense of individuality and purpose, which integrates seamlessly into the collective aspiration.
We can look at teams as having their own emotional intelligence, which is borne out team dynamics, cooperation and communication. This further affects how the team would interact with other groups within the organisations.
Some ways to build emotional intelligence for teams:
- Assess individual strengths and weaknesses to ensure each person is getting the opportunity to live up to their best potential
- Observe how your team members interact with one another to identify problematic areas and encourage the positive attributes
- Be open to feedback, from within as well as outside the team
- Foster open and clear communication so team members can feely talk about their challenges and/ or aspirations
- Commit to addressing their challenges with honesty and transparency
Every team or organisation is ultimately comprised of unique individuals, each with their own aspirations, personalities, abilities and challenges. These distinctive parts are integral to the whole and hence must be nurtured and cultivated. Mindfulness acts as a bridge between individual goals and collective success.
-By Anshu Daga, Founder, The Inner Startup