Insight on Mindfulness as a Business Skill

What is Mindfulness?Mindfulness is gaining steam in business which we’ve shared in previous posts. Consultants Kevin Pokorny and Tabby Hinderaker, both previous presenters at Leadership and Civility Lunches, were recently broadcast on Insight On Business – The News Hour speaking about mindfulness for business.

An important take away from the interview is that we are are equal in our ability to learn mindfulness. There is not one generation or profession that has a head start.  Hinderaker reminds us that being mindful comes with repetition, the same way as building our muscles through exercise.

You can easily listen to the full interview with  Michael Libbie.

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5 Lessons~Inbound Marketing to Workplace Leadership

Have you heard about inbound marketing?

It is an effective practice of promoting a business or non-profit through content marketing. The idea is to build a body of content that is useful to potential customers.  Inbound marketing strategy stands in contrast to traditional or outbound marketing. Instead of using mailings and cold calling practices that interrupt the potential customer, the inbound approach uses social media to bring customers with a specific interest to the content.

Consider marketing from the shoes of a potential customer.  You will discover the civility of this approach  and perhaps want to apply the practices to build a respectful workplace.  An inbound marketer:

  • Respects your time and intelligence.

  • Avoids interrupting you with unwanted pop up ads or junk mail.

  • Builds an online relationship with you by thinking about how to be helpful.

  • Offers just-in-time useful information.

  • Makes a bold, clear offer only once, after you have shown interest by gathering information for making a decision.

Following the advice given by inbound marketers and applying it to the workplace can lead to a productive and respectful workplace culture. Five lessons from inbound marketing make good advice to any person who decides to take small actions that matter.

1. Respect the time and intelligence of peers, direct reports, and managers.

Present information in the way they can best digest and respond to it.  For each person that could be different.  It may sound overwhelming at first.  However, this approach to working with others will lead to a more productive environment.

2.  Avoid interruptions of others if people are talking or seemed to be engrossed in a project.

Of course there are times when it is necessary that you interrupt people, however it can be done in a respectful manner.  Here is an example to use in a tight time-frame situation.

“Excuse me, I am sorry to interrupt.  I know you are focused on ____, however, ___ is waiting on a response.”

3. Build relationships with my peers, direct reports, and managers by thinking about what they are trying to accomplish and determining ways to help them.

We all need the help of others to be successful.  Think about what ways you can be helpful to the people around you. This is a lesson from the section on interdependence and emotional banks accounts that  Stephen Covey taught in his book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.                                                                      

4. Offer just-in time useful information to the people with whom you work.

Generally, people don’t like unsolicited advice or feedback. Content marketing works so well because it curates content and allows people to who are searching for information to get what they need. Giving people feedback can feel like unsolicited advice so there is a reason this idea is presented after building relationships with others. You can tell people almost anything if they trust you.  If they know you are there to help them rather than sabotage or look better than them.

5. Make a bold, clear offer (request) to people.

After people have experienced the respectful environment you have created, most people will be more than happy to comply when you speak up directly and clearly with a genuine request.

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The Seeds of Civility is a blog that is created by The Wallace Centers of Iowa.  Here we gather tips for leading (and developing emerging leaders) with civility.

What are Weak Ties and Why Should We Leverage Them?

Graphic of weak tiesDuring our Leadership and Civility Lunch titled Making an Impact through Connections participants had a chance to make new connections.  Aubrey Alvarez, a leader who is skilled in making connections for her non-profit, Eat Greater Des Moines challenged participants to  share an idea they have for their work with the people at their table.

There are benefits in sharing beyond our normal social groups.  A person we know as an acquaintance, rather than someone in our circle of family and friends, is considered a “weak tie” by scholar Mark Granovetter. He is  a highly cited sociologist that introduced the paradoxical concept of the strength of weak ties in a 1973 article published in The American Journal of Sociology.  Later, Granovetter went on to apply the theory to people who were seeking a job. He discovered that weak ties are more helpful than strong ties when it comes achieving this goal.

Since this blog is about small actions that matter, it is worth referencing the concept of weak ties when it comes to achieving results in the workplace. The whole idea of small actions playing out on a grander scale fits with the concept of weak ties.  Connecting with someone you don’t know well to solve a problem seems inconsequential.  However, the work of Granovetter points to three benefits.

Three Benefits of Leveraging Weak Ties

1.  Different Perspective = Useful Feedback

Terry, a successful sales professional had a practice of socializing mostly with other sales professionals. She started to feel frustrated that her sales were not staying consistent over time.

One day, on a business trip, she found herself explaining her frustration to a total stranger. The conversation ended abruptly when the person said, “I know a sales person who was having this problem and he realized that he needed to listen more than talk.  I don’t want to be rude but I really need to catch up on some sleep.”

Terry was stunned about the abruptness of the short conversation and embarrassed that she even confided in a stranger.  However, the interchange prompted action.  She sat for the rest of the flight thinking about the advice.  She made a list of questions to ask people during the sales process and vowed to try listening to the responses of the questions with her next sales call.

2. Better Articulation = More Clarity and Creativity

In the same example, Terry had to explain things more specifically than she would to her friends. Because they know her well they might have just agreed with her and intuitively understood rather than really listening to what she was saying.  The process of articulating our thoughts more clearly leads to more insight and creativity.

3. More Weak Ties = More Connected to Information and Ideas

The more weak ties we have, the more connected we are to the world. This allows us to receive important information about ideas, threats and opportunities in time to respond to them.

In order to leverage weak ties we need to have a mindset that assumes the best intentions of others.  Our small actions like listening well, speaking up, smiling, noticing little things, and including others will lead to an ability to leverage weak ties when we need them.

Graphic of CultivateThe Wallace Centers of Iowa promotes conversation about civility in the workplace.  Tweet  your thoughts to keep the conversation going?