Mindfulness at work – the art of communicating

Context 

After a few years of different experiences as “man in a middle” between development teams and stakeholders or as project & people manager I got a real interest, I could even say a passion, for collaboration practices that put People in the center and that could help us being happier at work.

We spend our days at work and sometime our life thinking about it. How can it be a source of fulfillment ? How can people collaborate rathen than compete ? How can subordinated people fully express themselves at the office ?

To answer all these questions, I read some books published by the Grenoble Management School’s chair of Mindfullness at work – Economical Peace and wellbeing at work and, in Spring 2017, that led me to be part of a seminar called “managers retreat” at the zen meditation center Plum village in the south of France, set up by the buddhist monk and vietnamese peace activist Thich Nhat Hanh. That special week was dedicated to gather workers to listen and practice teachings that has been introduced to the silicom valley’s IT companies a few years earlier.

With the following collection of posts, I’d like to share some pratices I’ve learn there or I’ve read (I do not claim that I’ve achieve to apply them every day ).

I hope I’ll avoid commonsenses and nonsenses. Please be indulgent, I’m neither a buddhist nor a meditation teacher and even less a communication expert :).

Introduction – Mindfull communication at work

Few people can raise their hand when we ask who works alone and has no intercation, even IT developpers behind their black screens are social animals (that’s not what I was thinking when I was studying IT engineering… my mistake  :D). All projects, especially in IT,  needs communication skills, co-creativity and collaboration to hit its target but we all have encountered difficulties in conveying our ideas, have been misunderstood or have misunderstood someone else.

To avoid that, I think that we all need to work on ourselves and  have some guidelines to change our communications habits, our project or office culture, maybe mindfull communication could bring some.

 

What is the aim of mindfull communication?

So, what’s on the agenda of a perfect mindful conversation :

  • Fully understanding each other
  • Being nourished by conversations and « watering the right seeds » in us : seeds of empathy, openmindedness…
  • Filtering “bad speech” : misperception, anger, judgment, insecurity…
  • Puting mind and body at the same place

What are the keys of mindfull communication at work ?

There are two keys to mindfull communication, at work or not :

  • Deep listening

Deep listening is « listening with EQUANIMITY ». WTF means that word ?

Equanimity is a psychological stability, a way of listening which is not disturbed by bad weather, you’re workmate bad mood (or  bad breath) or your current negative temper.

To do that you have to :

– train yourself : meditate or do whatever makes you able to catch and understand your own feeling to take a step back

– remember that the other person speech may be based on prejudices and misunderstanding –> filter these ones !

  • Right speech

Right speech has openess, understanding and reconciliation at its base.

According to Thich Nhat Hanh teachings, there are four elements for a right speech :

The following bullet-points could be seeing has commonsens but ask yourself, are you  really alway praticing them (don’t lie to yourself it’s bad for your karma :)) ?

– Tell the truth

– Do not exagerate

– be consistent

– use peacefull language

We can also add these Bouddha’s recomandations :

– Speak the language of the world and adapt you’re speech to the people : some people love to speak with impenetrable words making them feeling more skilled. That’s useless at work! Work is made to collaborate, do not waste time pretending you’re intelligent :P!

The six mantras of a right speech

To simplify, a « mantra » is a sacred statement repeated by a pious person meditating.

Again, it sounds like commonsense but I’m pretty sure than reading them sometimes and having them in mind could help.

1- « I’m here for you »

Meaning adapted to working environement : I’m fully devoted to that moment. My mind is open to whatever you’ve to say.

If you’re not fully present : tell it, go take some fresh air or if possible choose a better moment for the conversation or meeting

 

 

2- « I know you’re here and I’m happy »

Take you interlocutor into real consideration.

If both of you are gather for a talk that’s a great opportunity to nourrishing each other with different point of views.

 

 

3- « I know I can do something for you (the real one is « I know you suffer » but is difficult to apply to work)

 

 

 

 

 

4- « Please explain, I’m doing my best to understand »

This one is at the base of my  Product Owner job 🙂

 

 

 

 

5-« This’s a happy moment »

 

 

 

 

 

6- « You’re partly right »

Remember that people are not (always) in bad faith but sometimes when they criticize they just don’t have all the elements to get your point.

/!\ Don’t fall into false humility while saying that 🙂

 

 

 

Notes : this post is based on the reading of « The Art of communication » written by Thich Nhat Hanh

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