This post originally appeared on SwitchAndShift, where I sometimes guest blog. Check out their site for more content on the world of work.
Learn how to pay attention.
Being mindful seems like such an obvious concept, but it still amazes me how little it’s practiced.
I’m always so insulted when someone is using their cell phone while talking to me, or checking an email in the middle of a conversation. It’s just plain rude.
There is a newly coined word in the English language for the moment when the person we’re with whips out their BlackBerry or answers that cell phone, and all of a sudden we don’t exist. The word is ‘pizzled’: it’s a combination of puzzled and pissed off. – Daniel Goleman
Daniel Goleman is a psychologist and award winning author that studies mindfulness, and how it affects us.
One of the best videos I’ve seen on the subject is a talk that he gave at Google.
The video is a little long, but well worth the watch if you have some time.
Being more mindful simply means being more aware of what’s going on, really being “present” in the moment, and paying attention. It’s amazing to think how something as simple as this can increase employee engagement.
Being Mindful Makes Employees Happier
In two studies published in the journal Mindfulness, researchers looked at the effects of leaders being more mindful, and employee well-being and performance.
The studies found that the more mindful a leader is, the lower an employee’s emotional exhaustion is. More mindful leaders were also associated with employees having a better work-life balance, and overall job satisfaction.
The second study found that employees are also more friendly with co-workers, and helped their team more.
The second study did find something interesting though, it found that if an employee felt like they didn’t have enough autonomy or connection to others in the company, the mindfulness didn’t help.
So while mindfulness is important, don’t forget about giving employees the autonomy they need.
Being Mindful Improves Decision Making
In a recent study published in Psychological Science, the researchers wanted to see the effects of mindfulness on something called the sunk cost fallacy.
Just in case you don’t know what that is, it’s the bias that we have to continue down the wrong path because we’ve already invested time and energy into it. A simple example is when you watch a bad movie, but you finish it anyways, because you’ve already made it through the first hour.
What the researchers found, was people with increased mindfulness, through 15 minute meditation, had lower tendency to think in terms of sunk costs.
Being Mindful Helps You Focus On Tasks
In a study published in the journal Human Relations, researchers wanted to see how mindfulness could help in a chaotic work environment like a restaurant.
What they found was that servers that were more mindful had increased job performance, and were better able to focus on what their customers were asking for.
What’s interesting about this study, is that being mindful helped even when workers weren’t fully engaged, meaning that mindfulness has a direct link to job performance.
What the researchers said, was that workplace engagement increases feelings of positivity and happiness, but mindfulness increases cognitive skills and attention, making them better at juggling multiple things at once.
Why Is Focus So Important?
I’m glad you asked. In a study done by Matt Killingsworth, he found that , researchers found that 47 percent of the time during a typical day, adult minds are not focused on what they’re currently doing. Even worse, when people’s minds wander, they report being less happy.
Here is a TED talk from Matt that talks about all of this:
How To Be More Mindful
The answer is meditation.
A recent study by University of Washington found that meditation training helped workers concentrate better, remember more of their work details, and stay energized and experience less negative moods.
You really only need about 2 minutes a day to make it work. Check out this great guide by Leo Babauta from Zenhabits.
2 tools I’d recommend everyone looking into: