Worth a try
Companies around the country are touting the virtues of meditation and mindfulness in the workplace. And for good reason: The practice can improve memory and focus, control emotions, and reduce stress—and, in turn, make you better at your job. Here’s how.
1. You won't miss a detail.
You’re sitting in a meeting, laptop open, phone on the table next to you. You’re listening intently when an email pops up. You quickly open it, read it, and close it—with a plan to respond when you “have more time.” The only trouble is now you’re thinking about it. Whether it was about dinner tonight or a presentation due at 3 p.m., although you are not actively looking at the email, it has invaded your brain space. No one in the room may notice, but you’re not 100 percent there.
Forty-five minutes later, back at your desk, you begin discussing the meeting with a colleague, only to realize that the two of you heard completely different things. Now you’ll need to follow up with your other coworkers. Not only have you missed information because you were distracted, you’re slowing down your own workflow because of it.
A mindfulness meditation practice addresses this issue in two ways:
•It gives us a sense of awareness that will prompt us to be more cognizant of potential distractions and remove them when we choose to focus. (Take notes in your notebook during a meeting and leave your laptop and phone at your desk!)
•It trains our ability to focus for extended periods of time, increasing our ability to be present during long meetings and to retain the information presented to us.
2. You'll make better decisions.
You’re sitting in another meeting, reviewing a project with a room full of colleagues. Unexpectedly, someone chimes in to point out a flaw that happens to be in the section you were responsible for. The entire room nods in agreement.
While your colleague is simply working to improve the company’s offerings as a whole, her declaration feels personal—and it seems like she’s throwing you under the bus! Suddenly your head starts spinning into thoughts of Why didn’t she say this to me quietly on the side? Why did she have to torpedo me in front of the whole group? Why is it always my work that gets torn apart?
When we feel threatened, our primitive human nature kicks in and activates our fight-or-flight response. This is great if you’re running from a predator in the jungle but not so helpful when you’re in a meeting with colleagues or clients. Just like that, we react and behave in ways that are less than professional.