Quantum Nudge Series #4: Interpersonal Mindfulness
“Treat people as if they were what they ought to be, and you help them become what they are capable of being.” -Goethe
Previous blogs suggest three consulting practices help nudge a positive culture, even if by changing one person's ideas or attitudes. First, heart-centeredness conveys authenticity, care and compassion. Second, we focus significantly more on the strengths and positive factors in the person or culture, helping them actualize natural capacities already there. Third, we make our interactions intimate--more transformational than transactional--by putting us and the other on the same level of vulnerability. The next practice is where the rubber meets the road. If we are to be trusted agents we need bring astuteness and presence to our time with others; we avoid mindless speech and actions.
Mindfulness has become popular, with a 2014 Time magazine cover, new research studies, and workplaces and various coaches and trainers providing meditation classes. Over twenty years ago, I taught mindfulness meditation in a predominantly conservative community and was told that meditation was "of the devil." Things seem to be changing! There is no one clear definition of mindfulness but--at its fundamental core--it is essentially what the Buddha taught his disciples sometime around 400 BCE. And he taught it as a path to enlightenment. Here's one definition: awareness that emerges when we pay attention to our experience in a particular way; intentionally, in the present moment, with curiosity, acceptance, kindness, and non-judgmentally.
Human beings--as citizens of earth-- live in-between the micro-cosmic world of atoms and quantum activity and the macro-cosmic universe of galaxies. A quantum nudge between two people can help both see themselves more clearly in this bigger scheme of things. Such clarity lasts only a micro-second, what the Buddhists call a dhammic moment. But in that moment, we sense both a deeper connection to and transcendence of all things. This happens a lot more often than our Western minds have been trained to see. Inspiration, awe, flow, being really heard, moments of courage, a perfect spring morning...all these either hint at or give naked evidence to such preciousness.
Workplaces are open to meditation because it can be effective in reducing stress...and there is even more potential for culture of health
What does this have to do with the business reality of the workplace? The current (and I believe "surface") answer is "stress reduction." Workplaces may be open to providing meditation, even though research evidence is mixed with some reviews showing either some effectiveness or no effectiveness for stress reduction.
Meditation is what I call the "intra-personal" side of mindfulness. But there is also a vast, unexplored, and new vista of "inter-personal" mindfulness that can grow from these activities. That is, we can bring that mindful awareness to our interactions with others in ways that magnify the heart-centered, strengths-based, and intimate quality of the quantum nudge. This can happen in seven different ways.
The Seven Types of Interpersonal Mindfulness
I have described and discussed these types in depth and present retreats abd workshops on interpersonal mindfulness. Treat the list below as a survey exercise. Which one do you most resonate with? As you review the descriptors, reflect both on how often you express the quality and also how easy would it be for you to try it out.
- The Values Clarifier is conscientious about upholding, staying true to, and expressing values at or through their vocation. Work is not just a job but is about their Cause, Calling, or Legacy. They enjoy bringing meaning and value to the work setting.
- The Intentional Centerer has a regular mind-body practice or is that person who breathes, breathes, breathes through the stress and strain of the work environment. By doing so, they actually help others to remain calm, take things in stride, and even learn to center themselves.
- The Heedful Relater is all about treating people with loving kindness. He or she often just takes the time to be there or gives coworkers "quality time" when interacting. Through minding their words and actions, they bring a sense of respectfulness and cordiality to the work culture.
- The Compassionate Nudger mindfully encourages others to get through whatever difficulty they are having (whether work-related or personal). They know where and how to get help, for example, through the Employee Assistance Program. They may be the only one who pays attention and reaches out to others.
- The Knower of Impact looks for chances to create positive social contagion--pay-it-forward scenarios, acts of random kindness. Mostly, they stay alert to how their own words and actions come from integrity. Foresight and forward thinking is their strength.
- The Garnerer or Gardener of Trust places a premium on trust and creating unity--the "we" in wellness. They want people to belong and feel it. While they may be sought after to resolve conflicts, they prefer to proactively nurture conditions of community and trust.
- The Thriver views all stress as "Grist for the Mill" and shows others how negatives (e.g., downturns, losses, poor performance) may hold opportunities for new growth. They are the most up-to-date on matters concerning resilience, thriving, and flourishing at work.