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The Best Listener at Work

 

The Best Listener at Work

The Best Listener at Work

You may wonder why being a good listener at work is really valuable.  However, if you experiment with improving your workplace listening skills, you will see changes.   In the fast past, high demand jobs so many of us have, really good listening may be something of a novelty.  This may because of the ever-impending deadlines, the many distractions we have or the workplace stress.  If you commit to being the best listener at work, you may notice that some of these challenges shift.

So how might listening skills impact your work place experience?  Well, consider your experience now.  How well do you feel heard at work?  What do you notice about people how are really present with you when communicating vs. those that are anxious to move to the next “to do”?  I would imagine that when someone is really present with you that it is easier to talk to them, you may feel more connected or more at ease. What if you were that person for everyone else?  How might this impact your workplace experience if people knew that when they spoke to you, that they could count on you to really pay attention?

Particularly if you are a leader, really good listening skills go a long way.   Being able to connect, understand and communicate effectively with your employees is a crucial component of an effective leader.   According to a study in The Journal of Occupational Health, it was found that… “psychological stress reactions were lower in subordinates who worked under supervisors with high listening skill, while no statistically difference was observed among older subordinates.” 

So if we know that our listening skills have an impact on our overall work stress, it seems like a great advantage for us to actively improve these skills.  Below you’ll find three tips to improve your listening skills

1.) Offer more clarity

Repeating something back to someone in the way that you heard it will help to reduce miscommunication.  Repeating a statement also offers the opportunity for this person to add additional clarification if necessary.  This way of “active listening” ensures that this person is being understood correctly and shows them that you are paying attention.

2.) Focus

Sometimes we can get caught up in how we are going to respond to something.  Thinking of what to say next reduces our ability to listen to what someone is saying.  Attending to what someone is saying without focusing on how to respond will create stronger communication.  Remain focused on the present moment and really digesting what it is that someone is communicating. 

3.) Breath

Often times at the workplace we are moving a million miles a minute, which reduces our ability to take in information in any given moment.  Taking a few moments to breath as you speak with someone will help you to be more present and process what they are saying more effectively.  Before you speak or when you are feeling overwhelmed, stop and take a deep breath.  This may sound trivial but can do wonders for not only stress but your ability to communicate and listen effectively. 

After you’ve had the opportunity to put these behaviors to the test, I would invite you to make a comment below.   I would suggest that in order to notice results you may have to practice one or all three for at least four times a week for three weeks.   After you’ve practiced, consider answering the following questions –

How did they work if they did at all? 

What did you learn?  

How long did you practice each new behavior?  

Best,

Michael

P.S. If you are curious to learn more about personal development, workplace challenges, interpersonal dynamics, goal achievement and a wide variety of other topics, sign up today! www.www.arcintegrated.com/newsletter.  It’s totally free.

You’ll also receive a FREE tip sheet with Five Strategies to Build Motivation!

 

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Inspiration and Engagement in the Workplace

Inspiration and Engagement in the Workplace

Inspiration and Engagement in the Workplace

I recently wrote an article for a website called inspiremetoday.com.  This article answered the question –

“If you only had 500 words to share, what wisdom would you want to pass on to humanity”

Of course this is a complicated question, but fun to answerMy answer consisted of ways to build inspiration, courage, congruence etc.  I wondered though, how does one hold on to inspiration?  I want to take this opportunity to discuss not only how to hold inspiration but particularly how to hold inspiration and engagement in the workplace, where most of us spend the majority of our time.

Inspiration is hard to hold on to sometimes.  However, this should be of primary concern to companies.  Here are three tips identifying why it may be beneficial to inspire employees and encourage employee engagement –

  • Employee turnover is expensive, unproductive and challenging.  Keeping employees engaged and enthusiastic about their work will reduce employee turnover and ultimately reduce costs and lost productivity for the company.
  • Most employees report that one of the most desired components of a positive work experience is being appreciated. One way to show appreciation for employees is making sure they are engaged in what they are doing, thus improving employee experience and reducing likelihood of turnover
  • Understanding the match between the company’s values and employee’s values is important.  If this is unclear, consider bringing in consultants or coaches that can evaluate and mediate this discussion.

So this may pose the question – how does a company get leadership to buy into this importance of employee engagement?

Companies can encourage leadership to understand the importance of employee engagement through modeling it. This means that HR and executive leaders should feel engaged in their work so that they can experience the value of what they will be teaching to other leaders in the company.

If leaders are experiencing a congruence between the values of the company and their own values, this will certainly inspire employees in the workplace.   This does seem relatively intuitive in nature, that if values match then positive outcomes will result. However, now there is a building mountain of evidence to support the importance of engagement, value alignment and inspired employees, as it relates to the successful business.

For example, according to Towers Watson, companies with a  highly engaged workforce improved operating income by 19.2% over a 12 month period while companies with lower engagement saw a 32.7% decrease in operating income.

However, according to a study by Accenture, less than 50% of chief financial officers appear to understand the return on investment in human capital.   Even though this may be changing, continued awareness is important.  For additional evidence regarding the value of addressing engagement and other human dynamic issues, here is an extensive list of studies pointing to the value of improving employee engagement, culture and satisfaction.

How is your current level of engagement in your work?

What would it take to inspire you?

Best,

Michael

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5 Strategies for Effective Boundaries in the Workplace

5 Strategies for Effective Boundaries in the Workplace

5 Strategies for Effective Boundaries in the Workplace

I was recently featured on Livestrong in an article about setting effective boundaries so that you do not become emotionally or even physically drained.  Sometimes not having clear boundaries can do this. Without good boundaries we can feel exhausted.  Since for most of us the majority of our time is spent at work, I wanted to elaborate on how to set effective boundaries in the workplace.

Having clear workplace boundaries not only impacts you, but all those you work with as well.  Having clear boundaries in the workplace helps to improve productivity, decrease stress, helps foster good relationships and improves motivation.   Although setting boundaries is complicated based on the nature of the work and relationship, a study that examined boundary setting in the workplace found that evaluating and setting boundaries did in fact impact relationships.  According to The University of California San Francisco, when boundaries are clear organizations work more efficiently and groups within work more productively.

 

5 strategies for effective boundaries in the workplace

 

  • Responsibility – Having a clear idea of roles and responsibility is crucial in a work environment. If this is unclear, then meeting with co-workers and supervisors may be important for clarification in order to understand who is responsible for what.

 

  • Self-Care Self-care may not seem as obvious when looking at boundary setting. However, this is more of a preventative measure.  It is easy to become unclear about where appropriate boundaries should be when we are run down, stressed out, irritable or overwhelmed.  Having good self-care practices will allow us to not only function at peak level but also remain clearer about where appropriate boundaries should be.

 

  • It’s not Personal – Remaining aware that work relationships may differ from personal relationships is an important perspective to hold. This doesn’t mean that there is not a certain level of familiarity or closeness with those you work with.   Some decisions in a work environment may be out your control.  In addition, there may be decisions that are made that don’t make sense due to components that you be unaware of or are not privileged to know.  Just like in all relationships – learning to not take things personally can be a game changing perspective to hold and a way to reduce stress and anxiety.

 

  • Clear and Friendly Communication – Setting clear boundaries does not mean needing to be dry, cold disconnected from your fellow co-worker. In fact, having a positive friendly attitude can generally impact the environment in a great way.   Remember that there can be a balance between clear boundary and a friendly, positive attitude.

 

  • Be the Leader – In an environment of unclear boundaries there is an opportunity. This opportunity is for someone to establish a leadership role and be a model for how to set clear boundaries of relationship and responsibility.  We always have the option of being in a position of either following the trend or stepping up as a leader, regardless of our position in any environment.

 

How else have you been able to set clear boundaries in the workplace?

Thanks,

Michael

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Meditation for the Individual and Organization

Meditation for the Individual and Organization

Meditation for the Individual and Organization

I have been meditating for some time, with more consistence recently.  I have experienced a wide variety of meditation practices.  Practices from basic breathing exercises to guided meditation to Chi Kung, a Chinese based practice of held posture or soft movements related to energy cultivation.  All of these have found to be valuable in particular ways.  Mostly I practice Chi Kung in addition to daily seated meditation.  See the link to learn more about my daily practice.   However, this post is not about my daily practice.  It’s about why meditation for the individual and organization are both so important.

Recently I came across a device call MUSE: The Brain Sensing Headband™ (affiliate link).  The device is a headband that gives immediate feedback on brain activity through a synced app on your device.  For a detailed account of the process see this link.

Basically, this device works through first calibrating your current brain state (different all the time of course) and sets that stage for how active your brain currently is.  From there you get to pick the length of meditation, from three minutes to one hour, and a scene (rain forest or beach) that is associated with your meditation session.  You get feedback through sound from the scene you choose.  For example, crashing waves when active, soft waves when your brain is calm.  In addition, you hear birds chirping when your brain is particularly calm.

When the session is over you get a detailed report of your session and how calm or active your brain was.   The detailed account is presented in an easy to read graph of the ups and downs of activity during the session.

So the question may still be – what is the point of meditation?  It’s a valid question, with many answers!  Meditation has been shown to reduce stress, anxiety, depression and even improve productivity.  Please see highlights below –

Meditation for the Individual

Meditation can have an impact on the body, mind and overall well-being.  Below are just some highlights of the impact of meditation on the individual.

  • Impact on Aging – According to a study at UCLA, they concluded that long term meditators had less age related gray matter in the brain.
  • Management of Health Conditions – The Mayo Clinic sites meditation as having a high impact on both emotional well-being as well as helping people to manage symptoms of Asthma, High Blood Pressure, Heart Disease and more.
  • Impact on Depression, Anxiety and Pain – In a meta-analysis last year at John Hopkins, researchers determined that mindfulness meditation practices had a moderate impact on depression, anxiety and pain.
  • Meditation and Self-Control – In a study in 2013 by three universities, it is suggested that meditation training can have an impact on self-control and smoking reduction.

Meditation for the Organization

The impact of meditation on the organization can be significant.  Implementing meditation can have an impact on productivity, absenteeism and even the bottom line!

  • Impact on Absenteeism According to an article by The Harvard Business Review – employees struggling with depression lose an average of 27 days of work per year. If we know that meditation can have an impact on depression, then this could be a way to improve absenteeism and ultimately save the company time and money.
  • Impact on Disability The World Health Organization estimates the depression will be the leading cause of disability by 2020 with heart disease as second. This means high cost to companies that don’t find ways to work towards helping employees reduce and manage such issues.
  • Impact on Healthcare Costs and Productivity Corporate mindfulness programs are on the rise. According to an article by The Atlantic, Aetna states that since instituting its mindfulness program it has saved $2000 per employee in healthcare costs and gained $3000 per employee in productivity costs.
  • Meditation More Common in the Workplace According to an article by The Society for Human Resource Management, meditation and mindfulness programs are being implemented into wellness programs more regularly because of the great benefits associated.

So how does all this great data relate back to MUSE™?  Well, for a few reasons –

Meditation for the Individual and Organization

  • Easy to Understand Feedback – The immediate feedback MUSE™ gives is unique when it comes to meditation. Often times when meditating it is harder to get immediate results, which is why it takes lots of practice. MUSE™ takes practice too, but offers a way to see the direction you are heading.
  • Fun in Competition – Meditation is not generally competitive. However, with integration into a company’s wellness program, using MUSE™ in meditation, could be similar to running a challenge of healthy eating, walking or drinking water. For example, a race to get to 75% relaxation or a meditation for 30 days challenge.
  • Measurable – For those individuals or organizations that want to see progress in a measurable fashion, MUSE™ could be a tool for this. Gathering data over time allows you to see where you started and how far you’ve come.
  • An Introduction to Meditation – If you have never meditated you may have views, opinions or an image in your mind. This device takes some of the mystery out of the practice and allows for a glimpse into what is possible through calming your mind as well as the relationship between your mind and body.  Any way to connect our understanding of how our mind impacts other aspects of our health, is a great opportunity for growth and development.

How have you found meditation to be helpful in your life or workplace?

Please share or comment below.

Thanks!

Michael