Bring Mindfulness to Work and Improve Your Communication Skills at the Same Time
From making the bed to washing your hands, simple daily activities can act as reminders to be in the moment. Similarly, routines at the office also provide a slew of opportunities to practice mindfulness and, at the same time, improve your communication skills. We invite you to take the following practices to work and see what happens.
Respond vs. React
Before delivering an important message or response, take a few deep breaths to collect yourself. If an exchange has triggered you emotionally with a fight or flight response (an amygdala hijack)—especially if it’s strong enough to be accompanied by physical symptoms, such as an increased heart rate, sweaty palms or shallow breathing—take a few deeps breaths and then ask for time to think. Ideally, remove yourself from the situation to 10 or 20 minutes alone, even more if possible, before continuing the conversation. It’s important to calm down, still the fight or flight response and be able to think clearly. While your colleagues may find it usual to tap out temporarily, it’s far better than loosing your cool.
Practice Loving Kindness
We all respond differently to situations because we’ve all had different experiences throughout our lives. The past shapes the lenses through which we view everything. Remember that everyone, including you, has a different lens and will see things differently. When you encounter a situation where you don’t see eye to eye with someone, remember that this is an opportunity to either learn something new, embrace empathy by looking through another lens or practice loving kindness.
Seek Qualities to Respect
Everyone deserves respect. We all have our foibles, but everyone has at least one trait worthy of respect. Find at least one quality (bonus points for more) in everyone, and tell him or her about it at some point.
Choose your words carefully. Be generous with praise (but only when it’s deserved). Describe how you feel accurately. And be thoughtful and constructive with feedback. When you greet people you know, try to interact in way that will encourage more genuine answers than a rote “How are you?” greeting.
Active Listening When listening, resist distractions and offer the gift of your full attention. When you’re on the phone, try closing you eyes to see if it helps you concentrate more on what’s being said.
Begin meetings with a few seconds of unannounced silence to help everyone arrive fully and focus their attention. Conduct meetings, whenever possible, without the distraction of laptops or mobile phones.
Read emails carefully before sending, especially if the subject is sensitive. Think about how the other person will feel when he or she receives your message. Additionally, set email boundaries: Disable email notifications on your computer and push notifications from your phone. Set regular times each day to check email and certain times to abstain from email (such as after a certain hour in the evening, before work in the morning or during weekends).