Category Archives: Uncategorized

The Hazards of Mindlessness

I recently experienced the hazards of mindlessness. I was getting ready for a dinner party and couldn’t reach the plates I wanted, so I stood on a counter height chair to reach them. As I was getting the plates down, I was distracted by a news story on T.V. I lost my focus and tumbled to the ground. Fortunately, I was not hurt too badly, but the episode could have easily ended in disaster.

For the past 3 years, Judith Sugg and I have been providing training to organizations that want to integrate mindfulness techniques to improve individual and organizational effectiveness. Through this work and my own experiences integrating mindfulness practices into my own life, I have been able to see how mindfulness can decrease stress, improve communication and enhance productivity.

I am now acutely aware of the continuous attention and effort that is required to truly integrate mindfulness into our lives. My “mindlessness” incident made me think about all the times we create problems because we lack focus and intent. How many car accidents and falls occur because we are distracted?

And, how much miscommunication happens because we are not thinking about the impact of our words on others?

I ask you to consider how you and the people you work with are impacted by mindlessness. And think about how safety and workplace relationships can be improved when people become more mindful.

 

 Alisa Blum, MSW and Judith Sugg, PhD are principals at AIM for Organizational Health.   Information about their programs can be found at www.aimportland.com.  They can be reached at aimportland@gmail.com or (503) 481-7586.

Can You Resolve Conflicts Mindfully?

By Judith Sugg, PhD and Alisa Blum, MSW

AIM for Organizational Health

 

How much time do you think a typical manager spends dealing with workplace conflicts? Would it surprise you to learn that managers typically spend 25-45% of their time dealing with workplace conflicts? Consider the consequences of unresolved conflict such as distraction from the work that needs to get done, employee turnover and harassment allegations. What are the potential business costs?

Our responses to conflict are hardwired into our brain. Some of us automatically engage (and may get verbally or physically aggressive when provoked) while others automatically withdraw.

Healthier engagement in conflict requires that we choose, rather than react. The seeds for developing a choice are found in self-awareness and mindfulness, both of which ameliorate our brain’s natural alarm response and provide that moment of re-evaluation.

So what is the opposite of destructive conflict? Perhaps it is curiosity and creativity — both products of focusing attention, opening our minds, and staying in the present. The powerful benefit of this shift is a real and true engagement, a real if uncomfortable connection, between two humans. In this engagement, the shift to problem-solving an issue, rather than judging a person is easier. Resolution uses reason and skill, and one can learn and become better at the engagement. The only way to become better at destructive conflict is to have a bigger bomb.

Fortunately, with practice and increased skill, we can all learn to resolve conflicts at work. Imagine how the workplace would change if managers are spending less time dealing with workplace conflicts and more time helping employees become more productive, enhancing innovation and creating a positive atmosphere.

 Tips to resolve conflict mindfully can be found in our book, “Transforming Conflict with Mindfulness: 100 Lessons for More Presence & Skill in Resolving Conflicts”.   Contact us for a free consultation at aimportland@gmail.com or (503) 524-3470.

www.developtopemployees.com

 

Enhance Leadership Success by Building Trust

 

Stephen M.R, Covey, in his book, The Speed of Trust, says that when trust is developed and leveraged it is “that one thing that has the potential to create unparalleled success and prosperity.”  Our experience and research (Interaction Associates, 2013) tell us that teams that trust each other, and workers who trust their leaders, are simply more productive and effective. And probably happier.

Whether we are talking about family, or friends, or the workplace, the trust we feel is about predictability and reliability, as well as respect for the quality of the actions. Think about someone you trust — don’t they show skill in their actions, do what they say, and are consistent? When we feel trust towards someone, especially a leader or boss, we are willing to do more, sometimes risk more, learn something, and make the effort.

Certainly, we bring our individual history, beliefs, and values to a situation. Many of us have people in our past who didn’t deserve the trust we gave them. They didn’t do what they should have done in their position, they let us down, their words didn’t match their actions, and their values weren’t in tune with what we think is important.

It’s really not much different at work. A leader who inspires trust does what he/she says. They communicate clearly and fully. They see the best in their team and are ready for problems. They are open and self-aware. They have commitment to the goals of the team or organization, and they inspire us to commit also. When we are in their presence, they are really there. Some people might experience as safety. We feel known, and while no worker or leader is perfect, feeling trust inspires us to be better.

Trust is a sense or feeling. We have this feeling in our body, and often know whether or not we “should” trust a person. At some point, each of us decides that we have enough information or evidence to trust another person. However, most of us have flawed gauges. Maybe we trust too easily and get stepped on. Maybe we are biased and negatively evaluating someone because of their culture (or race, gender, culture, age, even clothes). Knowing our personal tendencies biases (and confronting them) is a strong step towards calibrating trustworthiness accurately.

If you are a leader, you may not have thought about your presence in terms of whether or not people trust. Now is a good time to reflect:

  • Trust is based on history and consistency: Is my behavior aligned with stated values and consistent?
  • Is there anyone I need to rebuild trust with?
  • Are there situations in which I can build trust and become more transparent by encouraging questions and answering honestly?

A good way to start enhancing trust is to pick one of these questions to discuss with your employees. Let them know you want honest and constructive feedback. See how this changes the relationship.

Judy Sugg, Ph.D. and Alisa Blum, MSW, provide leadership development that incorporate mindfulness techniques and skills to enhance emotional intelligence. Our programs provide techniques for enhancing leadership trust, decreasing stress, improving relationships and increasing productivity.

For more information, contact us at (503) 524-3470 or aimportland@gmail.com

www.developtopemployees.com

How to Integrate Mindfulness Practices Into the Work Day

by Judith Sugg, Ph.D.

Mediation, yoga, and breathing practices used to be confined to yoga studios and the like. Now these practices are cropping up everywhere, including big companies like Google and Intel.

But really, do they fit in our workday? The mountain of evidence to support these practices for improving health, training focus in our scattered world, and reducing stress is, well, striking. For the most part, the results of this research is wildly positive.

So why doesn’t everyone adopt these practices? One recent exploratory study* out of a business school looked at a particularly intense environment, health care, using self-selected professionals. Some professionals found they could integrate mindfulness into their workday, and some didn’t. The researchers now wondered: What’s the difference between these two groups? Why do some adopt these practices more readily?

Maybe the question really isn’t about “adopting” these practices. Maybe the word is choosing, in the moment, to use them. This is partly motivation, but mostly about habit. We are, of course, creatures of habit. Our mind chatter is particularly repetitive (and would be pretty boring if we had to read it), and it is difficult to break that habit of chatter.

Even after 30 years of practicing, when I get a grumpy email, my mind goes into a whirlwind. It takes a toned muscle of choice to get myself out of the whirlwind and into a more centered state. This muscle is the same muscle trained in meditation to bring your mind back to your focus (usually your breath). Inevitably, the mind wanders out into the ozone, makes up stories and conversations, gets emotional, and wanders off again. Without the muscle of choice being able to kick in, no fancy technique will get used.

And that is why practice, even a few minutes a day, is important as a simple and powerful reminder. Simple, brief practices for workplaces are a powerful step in the right direction because, ultimately, health in the workplace can mean something as simple as a breath done with great consciousness in a high stress moment.

* Lyddy, Schachter, Reyer, & Julliard. (2016). Transfer of Mindfulness Training to the Work Setting: A Qualitative Study in a Health Care System.

Judith Sugg, Ph.D. is co-director of AIM for Organizational Health, providing customized programs, facilitation, coaching and interactive training to raise Awareness, achieve Integration, and enable Mastery of mindfulness tools to improve individual and organizational effectiveness.  For more information about the programs we offer, please contact us at aimportland@gmail.com or (503) 524-3470.

 

Ease Into Conflict

TC header 1-titleThink about the last time you were in conflict with someone. How did it feel? Since conflict normally feels so unpleasant, we tend to do our best to avoid it. What if conflict didn’t feel so bad? Would you, then, be less likely to avoid it and find an acceptable resolution?

At our workshop on March 11th, we will show you how mindfulness can help you transform conflict so it resolve differences with ease. Our workshop will be held at Turtles Yoga & Wellness in Beaverton. The workshop will run from 1:30 to 3:00 with time for snacks and networking afterward. Our participants have been invited to stay for a free restorative yoga class at 5 p.m. We promise you will leave feeling refreshed and ready to handle the challenges you are facing.

Detailed information and registration can be found at bit.ly/TfmWav.