Thursday 20 December 2018

Mindful last minute gifts for colleagues

It’s the season of goodwill and tradition goes that we shower our friends and loved ones with gifts to show our appreciation and affection
When we exchange gifts, it is more about the thought that goes into the giving, rather than the gift itself. This is more often true in the workplace, where it is commonplace to give token gestures rather than the larger gifts we share with friends and family.

Thoughtful giving comes from a practice of mindfulness. Mindfulness is not a new concept. It’s a tried and tested technique that helps us gain perspective and regain control during periods of stress. It has been shown to improve wellbeing, reduce stress and make us happier.

The concept of giving and receiving gifts is closely tied to compassion, love, and gratitude. When you give someone a gift, no matter how big or small, you’re showing them that you care.  When we talk about mindful gifts, it’s about the thinking behind why we’re giving and choosing something that it truly meaningful for your colleague.

In a work situation, there are a couple of golden rules when it comes to buying gifts for your colleagues. These include not giving overly personal gifts and respecting price limits on gift exchanges. It’s also worth remembering that the gifts you choose say as much about you as they do your colleagues, so avoid anything too political or cheeky. The great news is that these boundaries lend themselves to more mindful gift giving.

In a team situation, gestures of goodwill work really well and are great for strengthening relationships. Think about what you could do that would make their working life easier, for example, covering extra shifts, making the coffee for a week or committing to finish your reports earlier.  Handwritten cards with personal messages that convey your appreciation for others are also a great way of building connections with your colleagues. There’s some fascinating research about how effective gifts are in helping us to form stronger bonds with people and boost morale. You can read more about it in this article on   

One of the best gifts you can give your colleagues this festive season is to be kind to yourself. We are pulled in so many directions over Christmas that it takes a resilient person to not feel pressured or stressed by what they have to do. Failing to nurture yourself over the holidays means that you are not giving your best self at work – and that impacts on your co-workers. Be mindful of your own moods in the run up to Christmas – you cannot give to others if you have nothing left to give. Make a pact with yourself to be fully present at important meetings – despite the additional pressures on your time and energy – and set aside time when you can fully appreciate your co-workers, perhaps at office drinks.

Whatever you decide, remember that when it comes to gift giving – be it friends, family or coworkers – it really is the thought that counts.

Friday 7 December 2018

How to overcome your biggest challenges

Practice makes perfect, so the saying goes. It doesn’t matter who you are or what job you do, as individuals we never stop learning. However, from time to time, the challenges we face at work may seem insurmountable and serve to dent our confidence, rather than help us grow.

A life without challenges is an unrealistic expectation. But you can prepare yourself to deal with the challenges you face, so that you can embrace them as an opportunity to ‘practise’ and become better at what you do.

The run up to Christmas can be a time of immense pressure for lots of people to the point that you find yourself less able to cope with obstacles at work. Here are our tips for overcoming even the toughest of encounters and coming out the other side a stronger, more rounded employee.

Positivity matters

If you find yourself under pressure at work, it’s important to surround yourself with positivity. Rather than spend time with coworkers who are eager to share their own tales of woe, make a conscious effort to be with those colleagues who bring out your passion and drive. Negativity breeds so make sure the relationships you keep at work share the same positive vision that you do. You sometimes need to be with people who believe in your abilities so that you can believe in yourself!

Focus on the big picture

When dealing with challenges, it’s easy to get bogged down in the detail and lose sight of your end goals. When you start to feel discouraged it’s important to take a step back and focus on the big picture for a moment. Remember why this challenge you are facing is important – how will it help to lead onto other things? Does it take you closer to your end goal? Sometimes it helps to write down your goals and put them somewhere where you can see them. When you have to deal with something you find hard – look to your goals for inspiration and energy.

Break it down

Have you noticed how sometimes when we work on something tricky, it builds up in our minds – often without good cause. Human nature means that often we will put off the tasks we don’t like, in favour of quick wins but usually this has the unfortunate knock-on effect that we then are working on our most challenging projects under self-inflicted time pressures too! If you find yourself facing a challenging task or activity, the key to success is to break it down into smaller elements. Then systematically work through each element in turn. Be persistent. Be methodical, and before you realise it, you’ll find yourself half way up the mountain.

Picture your success

You need to picture yourself overcoming your challenge in order to make it happen. Visualisation is a tried and tested technique for helping to rewire our thought processes. When we think about positive outcomes, we are more likely to overcome our challenges. Use the power of your mind to picture how you will look and feel once you have accomplished what you have set out to achieve. This positivity really helps to motivate your spirit and drive you to succeed. Visualisation is a means of control in any situation that may leave you feeling unsure, vulnerable or inadequate. You can read more about the practice in this article from Psychology Today.

Monday 3 December 2018

How to be kind to colleagues who really don’t deserve it

When we’re at work, we’re expected to get along with our co-workers. Collaboration, team work, partnerships are all key to achieving great results at work, however we don’t often get to choose who we work with.

Thankfully, most co-workers and colleagues are united in a shared aim – to do their best and reach their full potential. Sometimes, though, there will be a need to work with people who we don’t naturally gel with. We need to engage, and work productively, with colleagues we don’t actually get along with.

A nicer, more positive office environment can be influenced by each of us, so we’ve developed some tips to help you be kind to those colleagues who sometimes don’t deserve it. It’s not just for the good of your employer, but also for your own mental wellbeing.

Watch not only what you say – but what you do too!

Very often our own body language can give away our inner feelings. Most disagreements in a work environment will not be as blatant as a verbal argument or a physical fight, but rather will present as negative body language – such as noticeable eye rolls or simply blanking people. In the main, people are very intuitive, so be extra vigilant that your own body language and non-verbal gestures do not convey your distain for your colleagues. If you exude positivity to all co-workers, they are more likely to follow suit.

Nip issues in the bud – don’t let things fester

Often the breakdown of work relationships comes about as an accumulation of smaller issues that simply haven’t been successfully resolved. If you find that you’re having issues with a co-worker or colleague the first step is to talk about it as it happens, don’t let the issue morph to become bigger and more significant than it needs to be. A single issue can be inconsequential in itself but unresolved tension will really be felt by the rest of your team and this will definitely impact on your ability to not only do your job well, but to enjoy the time you spend at work.

Set a good example – don’t let the behavior of others influence yours

There will be times when the only way to deal with a difficult colleague is to face them, full on. Be careful though. Communicating with others when we’re in a heightened state ourselves has the potential to develop into an emotional – rather than a rational - exchange. As a rule of thumb, when dealing with a difficult colleague, you should always pretend that your children – or your boss - are watching. This simple technique will help you to keep your emotions under control and make sure that the exchange remains constructive.

Give credit where it’s due – don’t let bad experiences taint your views

Positivity breeds positivity, so even if your colleagues are not being particularly friendly or forthcoming towards you, it shouldn’t stop you from treating them as you would your other colleagues. That means complimenting them for a job well done, acknowledging their achievements and giving credit where it’s due. Treat people as you wish to be treated yourself and don’t let the negative ways of others impact on your own working practices. Lead by example, always. Who knows, maybe your positivity may just rub off on others.

If you’re struggling to reach out the hand of kindness to one of your colleagues, remember, that you're kindness will benefit your wellbeing as well as theirs. This article from the British Psychological Society is a good reminder of the personal benefits that kindness can bring our way.