Being “mindful” may help you in many ways. It may help you personally, in your practice and when you try to negotiate or mediate a case. Mindfulness, or present-centered attention and awareness, emerged from Buddhist philosophy and has been cultivated for millennia through meditation practices. But you don’t need to sit cross legged on the floor of your incense-filled office to be mindful.
Mindfulness meditation involves focusing your attention on your present experience (thoughts, physical sensations and emotions) and staying present with those experiences without judging them or avoiding difficult aspects. Mindfulness meditation helps you switch out of what’s probably your default mode as an attorney, analysis and problem solving, into being more present, more empathetic and more compassionate.
Mindful Over What Doesn’t Matter
Mindfulness is something I do when working on a mediation. Listening without trying to create a response or a counter-argument and just sitting and taking in what another person is saying peacefully, was a huge challenge for me. It may be for you too but that’s how practicing mindfulness has been the most helpful for me.
An analysis of mindfulness research discussed in Science Daily suggests that injecting a corporate culture of mindfulness improves focus of employees, their ability to manage stress and work together. Google, Aetna, Mayo Clinic and the United States Marine Corps all use mindfulness training.
By having a greater consciousness in the present a decision-maker may perform better when barraged with various problems which require decisions under stressful conditions. Researchers looked at 4,000 scientific papers on various aspects of mindfulness. The study authors found the effects of mindfulness “consistently benign” with thousands of studies showing only two reported downsides to mindfulness.
The new study’s conclusions are:
- Mindfulness positively impacts human functioning overall improving attention, cognition, emotions, behavior and physiology;
- Specifically it’s been shown to improve three qualities of attention: stability, control and efficiency, and
- Mindfulness may also improve relationships through greater empathy and compassion.
Mindfulness may also result in:
- Feeling “centered” and more calm;
- Being better able to control aggressive impulses;
- Stress reduction, and
- Decreased ego involvement in your life so you’re less likely to link your self-esteem with events and since your ego is not at stake events are less likely to bruise it.
Prior to a negotiation or mediation:
- Take a few moments to appreciate your breathing, enjoy a piece of candy or simply take a few moments to yourself;
- This will put you in a better frame of mind so you’ll be better able to handle the stresses of aggressive negotiators or opposing parties, and
- If something doesn’t go according to plan you will be less likely to take it personally and less affected by emotional appeals.
During a mediation or negotiation:
- Take some time out if something negative happens such as an emotional outburst;
- Make an excuse to leave the room if you must, like you need to use the restroom or would like to get some coffee, before responding to the other side’s tactic, and
- By focusing on mindfulness, you can better ignore the emotional diversion and you will be more able to come up with a solution or response.
Mindfulness is something worth exploring if you want a way not only to do a better job for your client but also lessen the stress caused by your clients (and opposing parties) on your life.