"Once you have an ability to be truly aware (mindful) that is the starting point – you are then able to learn how to regulate your emotions.”
In corporate setting, mindfulness is about altering an individual’s relationship to daily stress, says Jones. This is especially true for business leaders who are at risk of making bad decisions if they can’t deal with pressure.
“Studies on mindfulness have shown a number of areas where positive change can occur - one area where being mindful can help is in 'responsive flexibility' so we don’t over-react. This has proven to help with decision making and communication,” she says.
“It helps people who tend to ruminate a lot, and paralysis of thought then sets in. They can cope when events are stressful while achieving faster recovery from negative effects.”
Jones recalls working with a senior partner at a large professional services firm who dealt with very high profile people in the media industry. He was initially quite skeptical of the power of mindfulness meditation.
“He had meetings with a very high profile media executive and those meetings tended to be quite aggressive,” says Jones.
Before a meeting one day, the senior partner walked to a window outside the room and used the ‘STOP’ exercise (stop, take a breath, observe, and proceed), and reported feeling calmer about the meeting. This ultimately had positive outcomes , which typically were not the case with this particular executive.
“He had more control over his own emotions and the meeting was much easier,” says Jones.
Gillian Coutts is a director at The Potential Project, an organisation that provides customised programs, based on mindfulness, to improve organisational effectiveness. Coutts is the co-author of One Second Ahead, a new book on mindfulness in the workplace.
One of her organisation’s most recent engagements was with c-level executives at Northern European beverage manufacturer, Carlsberg.
“We found that people were living with a real sense of pressure of always being on, overloaded by information and constantly distracted,” says Coutts.
“And for knowledge workers who need to be able to make decisions, that doesn’t create a whole lot of mental effectiveness when they are constantly in that environment.”
Individuals are constantly at risk of being interrupted with instant messaging, emails and enterprise social networking tools like Yammer and LinkedIn, and employing mindfulness techniques is a good option to overcome these interruptions.
Email is now by far and away the main communication mechanism within and between companies. It’s a tool that many people are now addicted to, says Coutts.
“When you get an email, if it’s a particularly positive email or one that is going to take you further in action – your brain releases the dopamine neurotransmitter, which makes you feel good.
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