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Viewpoint: 6 Tips for Workplace Mindfulness

A woman wearing a headset while working on a laptop.

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We've all felt overwhelmed during a hectic workday, particularly in our age of constant connectivity. In fact, 40% of workers report their job is "very" or "extremely" stressful. During moments when we must contend with high demand and tight deadlines, quality can be sacrificed in the name of efficiency, creating a lose-lose situation for businesses and employees. Active mindfulness may just be the solution to work-related anxieties and higher quality output that many are seeking.

Mindfulness is the practice of being aware of your body, mind and feelings in the present moment. It can be exercised through techniques like meditation, focused workouts and "single tasking." The benefits are scientifically proven: research shows that employees who work for organizations that encourage mindful thinking have less emotional exhaustion, more job satisfaction and better overall performance. Executives and professionals are increasingly using the tenets of mindfulness to manage stress, maintain strategic focus, enhance cognitive performance, promote emotional intelligence and improve interpersonal relationships.

As a CEO and active board director for multiple global businesses, I've found that mindfulness is a critical component of success. I integrate active awareness into my daily activity, and I encourage my colleagues to do the same. Managers looking to reach their full potential at work and empower employees to succeed should consider following these six tenants for mindfulness in the workplace:

1. Learn How to Single-Task. Create a to-do list and focus on one thing at a time. This is much easier said than done, but setting work intervals is a good place to start. The Pomodoro Technique, for example, is a time management method that divides work into 25-minute periods of intense focus separated by short breaks. When priorities or activities shift, such as right before a meeting, take a few minutes to meditate before switching gears. Count your breaths, close your eyes or even use an app like Headspace to clear your mind and transition to the next task.

2. Take a Break! Research demonstrates that when you take a moment to reflect and let your mind wander free from distractions, it absorbs new information faster and opens up channels for creativity. So don't be afraid to take a breather every once in a while. Managers can help get employees' creative juices flowing by making break-taking a cultural imperative and suggesting that they block off time to participate in mindfulness exercises – whether that's walking around the block or taking a couple of minutes to listen intently to the noises around you.

3. Embrace the Art of Listening. Hearing is passive but listening takes skill. My company believes in creating immersive listening experiences—both in day-to-day interactions and through our high-quality speakers and headphones. We recently launched the "How to Listen" program, which is improving employees' emotional wellbeing and productivity. These exercises help them connect with our audiences and tune in to their own emotions.

4. Become Comfortable with Uncertainty. Know how to pivot quickly, and pivot often. The most accomplished executives easily adapt to new situations where the only constant is change. Introduce yourself to diverse learning methods to develop the skills to maximize adaptability and improve performance. Mindfulness training is a good way to help manage whatever is happening as it comes, rather than switching to autopilot.

5. Lead by Example. I have increasingly adopted more practices and choices that are aligned with mindfulness techniques in my life. I have heightened consciousness regarding what I eat, and instead of rushing through a workout, I try to stay focused and controlled in the moment. I am an avid practitioner of yoga and meditation. I find that meditating builds resilience and vitality and opens my mind to the insights and breakthroughs I've been seeking (sometimes creative, sometimes analytical). 

6. Hold Employees Accountable. HARMAN recognizes Awareness Ambassadors – employees at any level who share their enthusiasm and skill for mindfulness with their colleagues by explaining its benefits. We have regular reminders of the advantages of mindfulness through events like group meditation sessions. These activities rejuvenate teams' commitment and offer them tools to be present at all times.

I encourage you to "stop," evaluate your routine and determine how you can integrate mindfulness into the day-to-day. After all, a small change could have a significant impact on your professional and personal life. It certainly has for me.

 Dinesh Paliwal is president and chief executive officer of HARMAN, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd.

This article is adapted from with permission from Chief Executive. ©2020. All rights reserved.


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