In the past month, I have surprised even myself by the number of times I have recommended mindfulness to my executive coaching clients. I have recommended it for a new manager who needed to improve his listening skills, an executive who struggled with confidence, and a stressed tech worker. I have also suggested mindfulness for dealing with impulsivity, emotional intelligence, and concentration.
So, am I just a lazy psychologist who has a one-size-fits-all approach to coaching? Not at all! There just happens to be a wealth of research that shows the numerous ways mindfulness can increase work effectiveness.
Jon Kabat-Zinn, who is world-renowned in the field of mindfulness defines it as “paying attention on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally, to the unfolding of experience moment to moment.” Read on for five ways it can hep you to be at your best at work.
1. Mindfulness Improves Self-Esteem
If you struggle with self-doubt on the job, mindfulness can boost your confidence. One study showed that students who took part in mindfulness meditation showed greater self-esteem after meditating, compared to a control group. The researchers argued this was because they developed a non-judgmental attitude toward themselves, were able to stay present, let their thoughts come and go without reacting to them, and learned to label their internal experiences. All of these strategies prevented them from getting carried away with their self-criticism.
Takeaway: By training yourself to take a step back from your thoughts and emotions, you can view yourself and the situation more objectively, and feel good about yourself, regardless of what may be going on around you.
2. Mindfulness Can Decrease Burnout
In today’s competitive market, companies are frequently in the position of trying to do more with less. As a result, workers often complain of demanding jobs with increased workloads and mounting stress. Luckily, studies of healthcare workers have shown that mindfulness practices can help guard against burnout. For example, a study of primary care clinicians showed they were less burned out, anxious, stressed, and depressed as a result of mindfulness training, and that these results persisted 9 months afterwards. Mindfulness has also been linked to decreased levels of cortisol (stress hormone) in the body.
Takeaway: Practicing mindfulness enhances your resilience to stress by positively altering your physical reactions and helping you to look at situations in a more objective fashion.
3. Mindfulness Can Improve Customer Service
If you are in a customer-oriented role, mindfulness can help you to better meet the needs of your clients. In another study of doctors, it was found that physicians who are more mindful were rated by their patients as more effective in communication and quality of care compared to their less mindful colleagues. The researchers concluded that because these doctors were more attentive to the patients, talked more with them about their emotions, and took more time to connect, the patients had a better overall experience with them.
Takeaway: Regardless of the field you are in, being fully present with others can only enhance your ability to hear, understand, and respond to their needs.
4. Mindfulness Can Help Your Job Performance
My clients consistently talk about how their jobs require them to deal with busy schedules, competing priorities, and a need to multi-task. Fortunately, mindfulness has also been shown to assist with these challenges. In a study of restaurant servers, it was found that the employees who were more mindful were rated by their managers as being more effective overall. The researchers argued that the ability to maintain attention in a busy environment gave those individuals a leg up compared to their co-workers.
Takeaway: Mindfulness can help you to concentrate and stay centered, even when things around you get crazy. This can help you to respond to the demands around you in a calm way.
5. Mindfulness Can Make You More Compassionate
In a study out of Northeastern University, participants who went through a meditation training program were over three times more likely to help an actor who was pretending to be in pain and on crutches compared to the control group. The researchers suggested that the meditators developed greater compassion for their fellow human beings as a result of this 8-week training program, and as a result, were more likely to help someone in need.
Takeaway: Given that most of the clients I work with long for a positive and supportive workplace culture in which employees genuinely care about each other, the enhanced compassion associated with mindfulness can increase employee engagement.
Regardless of the field you are in, a regular mindfulness practice can help you become happier and more effective on the job. Invest in yourself and enjoy the results!
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Want to see how mindful you are in your career? Take the quiz and find out! (You'll also get daily tips to help you to be more mindful).