Many – in fact, most – of our Small Business Forums focus on traditional business subjects such as marketing, branding, social media, and finance. Once in a while, though, we like to mix things up and offer valuable but less traditional learning experiences. To help local business and nonprofit leaders learn how to better manage stressful situations, we invited mindfulness expert Alfred Ricci, MBA to present at the first Small Business Forum of the new decade: Improving Customer Service Through Mindfulness & Resilience. Ricci guided attendees through a series of exercises during which they practiced new strategies to let go of stress and negativity.
Challenges can enter the workday in many different ways. Maybe you have a coworker who is consistently inconsiderate. Perhaps you work in a high-stress job with little time to decompress. Even if you love your job, you will occasionally encounter difficult people or tough situations. The good news is that simple mindfulness and resilience techniques can help you remain calm and regain focus. The even better news is that you can learn how to bring mindfulness and resilience into your daily life. Once you learn how to react to daily challenges, you’ll allow yourself to be more caring and compassionate with your coworkers, employees, and customers.
Mindfulness: easier said than done?
Those who study leadership know that “authentic” is a term that comes up frequently. But being authentic is important for everyone in an organization, not just those at the top. And practicing mindfulness can free you up to be authentic and attentive to those around you. While it may sound like being mindful requires a lot of effort, Ricci shared that mindfulness is really just a way to recognize and check in with your feelings. In fact, practicing habitual mindfulness actually frees you up, allowing you to choose a calm and peaceful state of mind. When you’re calm and peaceful, Ricci says, being authentic with your customers almost becomes effortless.
But, I don’t deal with customers.
Yes, you do. Although they might not all fit the traditional image of a customer, everyone you deal with is in some way your customer. Your internal customers include staff, vendors, other departments in your company, and numerous other stakeholders. While you aren’t selling products to them, you still provide them with service. Coworkers spend a great deal of time together, so life is much more pleasant when internal customers are treated with the same level of service as external customers.
Practicing mindfulness at work
While mastery of mindfulness can take time, training, and practice, there are a few things you can do right now to let go of your challenges and embrace authenticity.
- Take a walk.
- Take a breath.
- Listen with the intent of understanding.
- Shift negative language (“We can’t…”) to positive language (“What if we could…”).
Remember that your state of mind impacts every one of your interpersonal connections, and that being mindful doesn’t require a great deal of effort. What it does require is a bit of your attention.