You’re at your favorite restaurant and the waiter comes over to announce the specials. You’re suddenly faced with a common dilemma: order the dish you know you love or try something new. Most of us fall into two broad camps of either resisting change and opting for what’s familiar or craving something different, open to possibilities. Whether you’re open or averse to new things, at some point you’ll be asked to try something new, especially in the professional space. Reorganizations, new projects or staff changes can all shake up the routine. For those in leadership, change can also be something you have to implement as well as manage, rallying the team to get on board with a new practice. One example is the mindful meeting, a term used to describe meetings with a clear purpose where attendees are engaged and present in each moment. As mindful meetings continue to trend in corporate environments, many managers are being tasked with introducing this concept to their colleagues and incorporating it into regular routine. It’s important to be empathetic to those who struggle with change and provide rationale so staff understand why. For mindful meetings, benefits include a shorter duration and fewer meetings overall. If you’re planning to lead mindful meetings of your own, read on for a few ways to make the transition a little easier.
Get influencers on board
We all recognize the power that word of mouth can have on decision-makers. Read a few too many negative reviews and you might skip that sushi joint. Conversely, when your friend mentions a new Barre class, you may be more inclined to try it. In the office environment, getting the right people to spread the gospel can motivate a whole team to try something new. Identify a few people who are the office “influencers” or those who are early adopters, and enlist them early on to give mindful meetings a try. With their help, you can start to seed positive word of mouth about the practice. Of course you’ll want to choose people who are genuine fans of mindful meetings—this shouldn’t be a bait and switch—those who can get the rest of the team excited for what’s to come.
Take it slowly
Easing into the practice of mindful meetings can seem a lot less daunting than requiring everyone to jump in. Start slowly, with a few new concepts incorporated each week. You can start with check-ins around the room and deep breathing exercises to introduce the idea of being fully present. Explain how being aware of our mental state allows for more focus and therefore more productivity. Once that’s been established, you can take the next step of banning laptops, tablets and smartphones from mindful meetings. This may elicit some reluctance, so offer the reasoning behind this move: to reduce distractions and the temptation to multitask.
Make it fun
One of the best ways to combat fear is to make things fun. Incorporate a fun icebreaker activity to get everyone warmed up and more relaxed. For a brainstorming session, consider a round of run-on story, where the leader starts with a short description of a scene and each person around the room has to continue creating the story from where the person before them left off. Doodling can be another fun way to get people to get in the mindset to think creatively. Using a Bamboo smartpad, ask participants to draw themselves into a scene from their favorite movie. Though mindful meetings are intended to keep everyone focused, it doesn’t mean they can’t include an element of fun.
Ask for feedback
There’s a natural learning curve when trying anything new so it’s best to keep the process fluid. If your team is struggling to adhere to some part of a mindful meeting, ask for feedback so you can find ways to modify and adapt it to the unique needs of your group. Teams work best when everyone feels heard so create opportunities for feedback such as an anonymous survey or an open forum at the end of each meeting for people to discuss what they liked, or what they feel could be improved.
Change can be exhilarating for some, terrifying for others. Fortunately, when implementing a new practice of mindful meetings, the goal is something most people can get behind: being more present more productive. While not everyone may jump on the band wagon from the start, with patience and a good sense of humor, you’re bound to succeed.
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