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“Emotional Intelligence – Mindfulness”, a HBR Press Handbook Reviewed by

Mindfulness lessons from

The HBR’s Emotional Intelligence series reached an apex with its “Mindfulness” handbook. Despite its reputation, mindfulness does not come natural. We are all mindful of certain things – it comes with our human nature. However, you can never be enough mindful – mindfulness is a skill that can and should be learned.

The Harvard Business Review Press has come with a new concentrated series dedicated to our human side in organizations. “Emotional Intelligence – Mindfulness” takes a look at the wealth of articles published on on an ever-escaping topic – how can we humans become more sensitive and efficient in the same time?

Maria Gonzalez defines very nicely mindfulness as “being present and aware, moment by moment, regardless of circumstances.” Such a steady awareness state-of-mind is difficult to reach and distinguishes the owners from the pack.

Mindful people exhibit:

• Superior data analytical skills (mindful people see details not apparent to others),

• inner peace with their limitations,

• better balance between work and life activities 

• …and quite a few other features.

According to Charlotte Lieberman, mindfulness is also a self balancing tool – for example, in our productivity race we often forget to take care of ourselves. There is no shame in cutting yourself a bit of slack when you simply cannot move ahead – after all, we are not AI powered machines. It might even help us get a better perspective on what we are doing – and come back with renewed energy to the previously dragging tasks.

Another psychological approach on mindfulness was looking at executives who exhibit obvious issues at work. Susan David and Christina Congleton look at those high-level managers who push themselves (and their teams) ever further. Long-term, this strategy is counter-productive, alienating some of the employees and pushing anothers into burn-out.

In this case a mindful executive will be able to slow down and carefully balance its approach on the teams. She will use more than one approach for different circumstances, knowing when to praise and knowing when to carefully adjust the others’ approach. She will get in touch with her team at a personal level, without getting too much into their personal lives. And she will create meaningful tasks, based on the insights she gained during her mindful conversations. Who could of dislike such a boss long term?

Make no mistake, mindfulness is a difficult skill. Especially within our hectic lives, mindfulness becomes unnatural, leaving us always craving for more time to practice it. It is like surfing agains the waves, not on them. One of the authors “Emotional Intelligence – Mindfulness” looks actually very closely at what do we really expect from ourselves, as opposite as what those around us expect from us. She reaches the conclusion that we very often stretch ourselves too far, forgetting very often to rebalance and maintain ourselves too. Thus, mindfulness becomes also the antidote to crazy running around, thus leaving us more time to focus on what we want to focus. 

So the question remains – are you ready to start the journey?

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