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Mindfulness exercises may improve team relations at work

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Posted May 23, 2018

Working in a team may be a challenge for some. We as people are individuals and when we are working together our differences come up front. Some conflicts and generally stressful situations are basically unavoidable. But scientists from The University of British Colombia say that conflicts can be reduces or even avoided completely through team mindfulness.

Teams can accomplish more than separate individuals, but only if there is no conflict. Image credit: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Sacramento District via Wikimedia

The world is very big on mindfulness right now. People encourage individuals to be nicer to themselves, to look deep inside and accept those hidden wishes and feelings. However, team mindfulness is somewhat of a new concept referring to working without judgement between team members, focusing on the present moment and interacting with each other freely. This can be achieved through such team activities as yoga or meditation. Surely that does sound like some lines from a pseudoscience book, but mindfulness exercises have been proven to work on an individual level. Now a new study argues that it brings benefits to teams as well.

This study was quite extensive – two field studies included a total of 394 students as participants helped developing a scale of mindfulness and then a third study, which included 292 health care workers in China, tested the benefits of mindfulness in a team setting. Scientists found that mindfulness effectively reduced the conflict in the team and prevented personal prejudice from interfering with professional relations. Mindfulness also helped members of the team to detach themselves from emotions unrelated to the task at hand. And so work became more efficient and the environment less stressful. The most important benefit is that mindfulness helps avoiding interpersonal conflict which can really tear the fabric of the team apart.

Scientists say that more companies should consider encouraging mindfulness exercises as a way to strengthen team relations. Some companies, such as Google, Target and General Mills have adopted individual mindfulness practices but this idea on a team level is only being discovered now. Lingtao Yu, lead author of the study, said: “We believe teams may benefit from doing meditation or yoga together, and setting aside time to share experiences so that team as a whole becomes more mindful”.

Many health conditions are linked to stress. People hate their jobs because they can be stressful and so companies have to start looking for ways to improve the work environment. One of the best ways of doing that is encouraging mindfulness, which may result in a more efficient workflow and better interpersonal relations.

 

Source: UBC

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