Blog Article

You don’t need candles to be mindful: Emotional intelligence is for everyone

Posted by David Smith

David Smith

In the last couple of weeks an All-Party Parliamentary Group published the results of an 8-month inquiry into the potential for mindfulness training in key areas of public life. The resulting recommendations were clear¬, there are benefits within healthcare, education, and criminal justice, but also across the vast UK public sector workforce too.

Despite these concepts having been talked about for hundreds of years, you could argue that they’ve never been more relevant to modern business or modern life.

Various surveys have shown an increase in stress levels at work. For instance, some CIPD data from 2013 suggested that half of respondents have seen an increase in workload and nearly half have seen an increase in stress. 35 per cent have also seen longer working hours and more pressure to hit targets. In the same survey, a huge 62 percent said that these conditions made them feel anxious or depressed every day. Leaner organisations emerging from the fall-out of the recession are hard places to be. So could mindfulness training and a focus on emotional intelligence more generally be part of the answer?

As well as considering the impact this all has on their people, organisations shouldn’t lose sight of the clear bottom-line business case for employee well-being either. The CIPD data suggests that a quarter of employees have lost patience or poorly served customers because of the increased stress and strain they feel in their jobs. We’ve all felt the effects of this haven’t we? Frowned at by the stressed-out shop assistant or growled-at by the exasperated receptionist. The difference when you step into a nice environment is almost palpable. We should all strive to create these environments as employers and as leaders too – helping people to better understand themselves and their relationships with others.

I for one am delighted to see the profile of this important subject being raised in the corridors of power at Westminster. It’s also great to see the role this can play in educational settings too. As I have written many times before, yes we need to prepare our young people and students with academic and technical skills, but we can’t lose sight of emotional and social competencies either. Resilience, adaptability, self-control, empathy, relationship management, the list goes on. In our complex, challenging and changing organisations, we need to support our people to flourish.


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