20 Jan How Mindfulness Can Benefit Your Working Relationships
The benefit of mindfulness has been a popular topic in the media during the past two years; to improve focus, and avoid distractions, for pain management, and to lower stress are some of the highlighted benefits. How can mindfulness help your working relationships?
Our survival as the human race has been determined by our ability to be social. Our ancestors learned to work as a group delegating roles, caring for each other, and sharing skills to survive. As those skills and experience were shared, societies became strengthened. We need other humans to survive and also to develop our intelligence, emotions and creativity.
Our brains need stimulation from other human brains to form and strengthen new dendrites.
Being mindful – as in being aware of the present, what you are thinking and feeling – is a key subject being studied in neuroscience at the moment to explore the physical changes of the brain matter.
Be mindful of your thoughts. One study by Harvard researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) determined that meditation literally rebuilds the brain’s grey matter. This is clearly a very significant finding as we now know that practising mindfulness can physically change your neural pathways – strengthening the positive dendrites to enable you to behave mindfully and positively.
Professor Richard Davidson explains: “By focusing on wholesome thoughts, for example, and directing our intentions in those ways, we can potentially influence the plasticity of our brains and shape them in ways that can be beneficial.” (from Ruby Wax, A Mindfulness Guide for the Frazzled)
Be mindful of your own mood. We all know those pessimistic individuals who can affect the whole atmosphere in a room when they enter. We all have that innate ability to spread our emotions to others because of our social brains. Being mindful of your own mood before a meeting, a telephone call, a conference, or a presentation enables you to consciously put yourself in a positive frame of mind. Being positive and calming yourself will enable your colleagues and clients to mirror your emotions.
Be mindful to improve focus and manage distractions. We all appreciate when another person gives us our full attention during a conversation. By practising mindfulness techniques, this enables us to boost our own focus and will power, and manage our distractions. In turn, this improved focus builds our rapport with the other person because we are giving them our full attention.
Be mindful of your kindness, gratitude and positive thoughts about others. Neuroscience MRI scans have proved that the brain develops its connections when we think about an activity just the same as when we physically do the activity. Therefore, to improve your positive relationships, be mindful and consciously think about doing an act of kindness, paying a compliment, and thanking a person for their work. This will strengthen the positive dendrites and continue when you actively compliment or thank the individual at your next interaction.
Encouraging Mindfulness Techniques amongst your team will improve the quality of their lives and productivity at work. When Aetna partnered with Duke University to study meditation and yoga the researchers reported excellent quantitative results
- decreased stress levels by 28%,
- improved sleep quality (20%)
- reduced pain (19%)
- improved productivity 62 minutes per employee per week
Aetna now offers similar programmes to all employees as well as its insured customers. This is just one example of proven success of research in mindfulness practices within a company. Mindfulness technique programmes are becoming increasingly popular amongst successful companies such as Google, Target, Goldman Sachs, and Intel with proven results in decreased stress, fewer sick days, and increased productivity.
By adopting mindfulness techniques, this enables you to consciously be aware of your thoughts and emotions, and how you behave towards others. This awareness is a direct influence on your communication, rapport with colleagues, and intuition on how others will react.
For more information on Mindfulness, reread our previous eshots:
or listen to our introductory podcast on Mindfulness.