Empathetic bosses produce happy employees. And mindfulness helps both.
Life would be better for everyone if relationships at work were more peaceful and harmonious. Bosses would see improved results. Employees would enjoy more relaxed work environments. And families would be happier because stress at work would no longer be causing problems at home.
Sadly, this is not the case in today’s society:
- 80% of workers experience stress at work (source: stress.org)
- Half of all employees have chronic health conditions according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- Sleep deprivation costs employees around 1.2 million lost work days a year according to the RAND Corporation. lost work days—up to $411 billion a year—a recent report from the RAND Corporation. For many, those hours are unpaid, making it harder to pay the bills and to fulfill our roles as family members.
- Most importantly, stress at work creates unhappiness for individuals and families.
Meditation can change all this.
Companies including Google, Disney, and the Pentagon have all started using mindfulness, and it’s about time your company joined them.
Buy why is it important to use meditation at work?
It mostly comes down to compassion.
Why lack of compassion turns bosses into bullies
Every week, thousands of people Google search “Why is my boss so mean”?
Good question. And it’s at the heart of the entire issue.
So why are bosses so mean and hard on employees?
The answer is: because they are mean and hard on themselves.
What we experience in our own minds we pass on to the world. Negative energy towards the self translates to negative energy towards others. And this is the case for many bosses (or “leaders”, as they like to term themselves).
Bosses have their own bosses who put pressure on them. And even the head of a company has the pressure of meeting shareholder expectations.
So right from the beginning, at the peak of the pyramid, there is stress and pressure. That stress and pressure filters down through the pyramid, because if the person below doesn’t do their job the person above sees the results.
Your boss is told they have to sell $2 million this year. Otherwise their job will be in jeopardy. They know that for this to happen they need their employees to be productive. Anytime they see an employee being unproductive they worry they won’t hit the target and that they will lose their jobs. They then transfer that pressure to their employees. It’s a fountain of stress.
This is bad for business, as this article explains. But far more importantly, it has a huge impact on the mental health and happiness of both employees and bosses.
Negative bosses are destroying health and happiness for families around the world
For years, society has dictated that tough bosses get better results.
It’s simply not true.
Lynn Taylor, author of Tame Your Terrible Office Tyrant, says that the energy of bosses has never been more negative than it is today. Ego is largely to blame. It’s the Donald Trump mentality, the mentality that is keener to trash-mouth competitors and shame employees than to actually encourage and motivate them. According to a survey Taylor conducted, 86% of employees feel their boss is a negative influence and a source of stress.
Those bad bosses are causing serious problems for the health and happiness of families.
Science shows that employees with inconsiderate, impolite, or incompetent bosses are 60% more likely to have a heart attack. How many mothers and fathers have been lost solely because of a bad boss?
Compassionate leaders create happier employees and (for those counting) better results
One of the primary reasons human beings have become the dominant species on planet Earth is because of our compassion and kindness. This was an argument first put forward by Darwin 130 years ago and proven scientifically today mostly through the work of the esteemed primatologist Frans de Waal, author of The Age of Empathy.
De Waal says that society wrongly dictates that man is dominant because we are stronger at the more violent aspects of nature: namely, killing and being predators. But this, de Wall says, is not true. Nature is equally if not more about compassion and empathy than about violence, and it is compassion and empathy that has gotten mankind where it is today.
Empathy was vital to evolution. And research shows the importance of compassion at work too. And thankfully, leadership skill courses are starting to focus more on compassion rather than strictness.
In their book Resonant Leadership, Annie McKee and Richard Boyatzis say that empathy and compassion “have a decidedly constructive effect on neurological functioning, psychological well-being, physical health and personal relationships.”
A study conducted by the Australian School of Business showed that empathy and compassionate in leadership was one of the single most important factors to profitability and productivity. This is backed-up by another study conducted at the University of southern California’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, which showed that empathy is the most important leadership skill for bosses to possess.
But you don’t need a masters degree in psychology to understand why empathy is important.
Highly empathic people understand others. And understanding others means being able to guide them through problems.
Where bullying bosses cause their employees to close-off and to keep quiet about problems, empathetic leaders make employees feel comfortable discussing issues. That can save many workplace complications, from a business perspective. And far more importantly, it saves both employees and bosses from stress that can cause serious health complications. And all it takes is a little compassion.
How to create compassion at work using meditation
Scientific research has proven that mindfulness is a powerful catalyst for compassion. In fact, compassion is one of the number one benefits of meditation.
Loving Kindness Meditation (Metta) is one of the best meditation techniques for creating compassion. This simple technique heightens empathy and compassion in as little as twenty minutes. The result is increased understanding and healthier communication. It’s a technique all leaders should use at least once a week.
Another fantastic exercise for compassion is mindfulness. This is a simple technique that is about being aware of the way we are feeling.
Too much stress at work is caused by mindlessness. When one employee or boss feels pressured and isn’t aware of how their feelings are influencing their behaviour, the result is headaches and stress for everyone. This can be remedied easily enough. By simply being mindful of the emotion and saying to ourselves “I’m feeling stressed and it’s affecting me” we can take control of the situation.
This is essential for bosses who let their stress effect their employees. All it takes is one moment to say,
“I feel stressed. I’m not going to let this effect my workers”. And this simple strategy can remove a lot of the stress from the workplace for everyone.
Mindfulness helps employees to be happy at work
While a bad boss can cause a lot of stress, it’s important that we be fair. Not all stress at work is caused by the boss. A lot of it is on the rest of us.
Just as the boss puts pressure on themselves to perform well, and can lack self compassion and be too hard on themselves, so can employees.
Self compassion is key.
In fact, self compassion is so important that I wrote a complete (free) guide to how you can use meditation to create self compassion.
What does it mean to have self compassion at work?:
- Accepting your mistakes and being gentle in your criticism
- Recognising when you need a break and taking it
- Not putting unreasonable expectations on yourself
Stop stress at work by encouraging compassion
Lack of self compassion in leaders or bosses causes them to put unfair pressure on employees. Employees then feel the need to live up to unreasonable expectations They then lack self compassion themselves when they miss the mark.
So what’s the answer?
- Practice self compassion
- Be compassionate to other people at work
- Accept mistakes
- Be gentle in criticism
- Control your own mind.
- Don’t let your emotions effect others at work
- Above all, aim for empathy, understanding, and compassion.
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