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Mindful : August 2015
August 2015 mindful 69 Exploring the discomfort we feel just sitting still allows us to cultivate confidence in everything we do. During your workday, do you feel comfortable in your own skin, or ready to jump out of it? Here are five ways to get more grounded in the workplace. On-the-job Confidence It’s one thing to prac- tice mindfulness on the cushion, but bringing the practice alive on the job— handling conflict, man- aging tasks, expressing our creativity and much more—that’s where the fun begins. Here are five sim- ple approaches for apply- ing mindfulness at work. Stabilize your attention Too often on the job we find ourselves distracted, unfocused, even frenzied— which can prove distressing for ourselves and others. In mindfulness training, we learn to bring our attention to our immediate experience— showing up fully engaged and available. By permitting our attention to rest in the pres- ent moment, we can learn to attend to our work rather than speed past it. On-the-job exercise: In your next meeting, observe and make note of how often your attention wanders. Then, in a future meeting, try to escor t your attention to the present moment and remain vigilantly aler t. Take note of how it affects the meeting: What was different? How did your colleagues respond? Express “natural confidence” Mindfulness training teaches many things, but one of the very first discoveries is how uncomfortable we can be just sitting still. While such discomfort may appear problematic, in fact, the discomfor t is an invitation to consider a fundamental question: Can we be com- for table in our own skin? Exploring this discomfort is key to mindfulness practice, revealing how we can be at ease with ourselves—culti- vating a natural confidence in being who we are, where we are completely. On-the-job exercise: Write down two or three things you find irritating. They can be as simple as waiting in line for a cup of coffee or more demanding like dealing with an annoying vendor. Explore being deliberately at ease during these moments. What gets in the way? What becomes apparent? What’s the root of the irritation? Use mindsets as lenses People frame the workplace from many perspectives: The financial vantage point of a CFO; the customer’s need for prompt ser vice; the sales manager’s passion for closing a deal. Too often such perspectives can become rigid mindsets, and we find ourselves “arguing” with our work and pushing a point, rather than offering insight. The agility of mindfulness permits us to explore various viewpoints, so we can shift, arrange, and blend views in order to get a complete picture and skillfully shape workplace circumstances. On-the-job exercise: When approaching a difficult workplace conversation, first make a case for your oppo- nent’s view: Write down their perspectives, arguments, and goals. Make this exercise a routine of knowing and listen- ing to your colleagues’ points of view before resolving conflicts and problems. Strengthen emotional regulation With sustained practice, mindfulness has been shown to offer effective levers for regulating emotions, and to help build an array of social intelligence skills like empathetic accuracy, social attunement, and agile listening—all impor tant for maintaining healthy interper- sonal dynamics at work. On-the-job exercise: When debriefing an emotion- ally charged workplace expe- rience—whether rewarding or discouraging—describe in writing each party’s emotion- al stance. Describe how these emotions impacted others. What were you and others seeking emotionally? Foster well-being We all want well-being at work—both for ourselves and our colleagues—but it can often appear out of reach. Too often “toxicity” poses as “standard operating proce- dure.” Nourishing trust, can- dor, openness, respect, and a range of other healthy human values can be a simple matter of noticing workplace health and affiliating with it. On-the-job exercise: Describe where you feel your workplace and colleagues are demonstrating healthy and inspiring work practices. Agree on what is distin- guishing such health and who is responsible. Map out a plan, in writing, for more deliberately supporting these colleagues and practices. ● Michael Carroll is the author of Fearless at Work. practices at work