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New study finds being mindful can improve your interactions with co-workers

by Pragati Singh

Although mindfulness begins within an individual, a Virginia Commonwealth University study discovered that the advantages do not stop there. When an individual’s awareness is transferred into attentive interactions and relationships, the actual payoffs appear. These encounters, when imbued with intention, compassion, and presence, may result in more harmonious and healthier organisations.

“An understanding of how individuals bring mindfulness with them to work, and how these practices may contribute to interaction and relationship quality, is especially relevant as work landscapes are ever changing and interdependence is increasingly becoming the norm,” said Christopher S. Reina, Ph.D., an associate professor of management and entrepreneurship in the VCU School of Business.

In the study “Your Presence is Requested: Mindfulness Infusion in Workplace Interactions and Relationships,” which was published in Organization Science, Reina and management professors Glen E. Kreiner, Ph.D., of the University of Utah; Alexandra Rheinhardt, Ph.D., of the University of Connecticut; and Christine A. Mihelcic of the University of Richmond explore how individuals bring mindfulness to work and how it infuses their workplace interactions.

These practises can be formal, such as taking a thoughtful pause before commencing a meeting, or casual, such as paying close attention to someone.

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The qualitative research draws on actual leaders’ experiences to describe how they integrate mindfulness into the workplace. Interviews and on-site participant observation were used as primary data sources. The researchers performed 30 formal interviews with managers, professionals, and consultants who practise mindfulness at work, as well as more than 50 informal interviews with a diverse group of people who use mindfulness concepts at work.

“Interestingly, interviewees noted how other individuals around them had noticed the emotional effects of their mindful behaviors on interactions and relationships,” Reina said. “We found initial evidence that our interviewees’ efforts toward bringing their mindfulness into the workplace were seen by their colleagues as having a positive effect.”

High-quality connections have been found to increase individual functioning and have a favourable impact on group outcomes like psychological safety and trust.

Benefits of Practising Mindfulness

In addition to mindfulness emerging during an encounter, the study discovered that mindfulness practises might be utilised to prepare individuals for future interactions, such as when preparing for a tough or critical talk.

“Mindfulness reminds us that our thoughts and emotions are complex,” Reina said. “They are contextualized by prior events experienced within a social environment, and within this social environment, individuals must be aware of both their own and others’ thoughts and emotions in order to navigate these complexities with skill and compassion.”

Source: Virginia Commonwealth University

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