Working with Mindfulness in Mind

We all spend a great deal of our time each day at work. If your work is anything like mine, you have days at work when one or more co-workers or customers can be very challenging to deal with.  I recently had a chance to put some mindfulness skills to the test at work. Thankfully it was helpful for me in dealing with a difficult co-worker. I have found that using the principles of mindfulness, can help handle many situations at work and home with composure and skill.

  • As we consider how to go about this, let’s look at a couple of great minds from the past to see what they have to say on the subject. Here the Sage Lao Tzu says in verse 14 of the Tao Te Ching:
  • In living honor the land.
  • In thinking be deep.
  • In speaking be truthful.
  • In working be skillful.
  • In dealing with others be compassionate.
  • In giving be generous.
  • In ruling be fair.
  • In acting be timely.

As we consider these concepts in light of our situation of dealing with difficult and cranky co-workers or customers, how can we apply this? How does this relate to mindfulness as well?

Mindfulness involves being deeply in touch with the present moment, and how we are feeling in this moment. It also involves developing a deep understanding and acceptance of ourselves, and others. This understanding is necessary in order for true compassion and love to be expressed.

In any situation where we are dealing with others who are throwing all kinds of negative energy at us, we need our practice to be strong in order to transform the way we feel about the situation. As we practice mindfulness, we can better help the people we are dealing with. If we practice understanding and compassion we are “honoring the land” or place we live and work in. When we practice thinking deeply we can develop understanding and compassion.

We also need to speak truthfully. If someone is being very rude, we might kindly say something like, “That sounded very rude, I am sorry you are feeling this way. How can I help you today, so we can resolve this issue?” or “We all have upset feelings at times, I can see this situation is very upsetting to you.” I am here to help find an answer to this problem, so we can all have a better day.” or  (phone call) “Let me get your name and number, so I can research this for you, and we can call you back to help get this resolved for you.” These are just a few examples. There are many similar ways you can use to handle the situation. The idea is to apply the mindfulness concepts to the situation to help resolve it.

When we are working we need to develop our best listening skills, and practice thinking deeply to understand the real source of a persons suffering. If we do this, we can help them far more effectively. In this way we can reach healing and resolution for the problems at hand. The most important component to help us in this objective in addition to listening deeply, and carefully considering what we have heard, is to act with compassion towards our co-workers and customers. Without compassion we will not be able to skillfully handle these difficult situations.

  • “When we come into contact with the other person, our thoughts and actions should express our mind of compassion, even if that person says and does things that are not easy to accept.”
    “We practice in this way until we see clearly that our love is not contingent upon the other person being lovable.” Thich Nhat Hanh (Source:

We need to remember that nothing anyone else does is about us. It is best to not take things personally because of this. Peoples actions are a by product of their own thoughts, perceptions, beliefs and habit energies. If we can train ourselves to see this, and understand that they are suffering in their own inner world. What we see on the surface is what is spilling over into our experience with them. It is a great sign of strength when we can remain calm and kind regardless of how others around us are acting. Our peacefulness will help to calm them as well.

When we give of our time and energy to others we should also be generous. Consider how you feel when someone goes out of their way to help you with a project, even though they are busy too. How does it feel when someone holds the door for you, or lets you into traffic ahead of them? It feels awesome! This is one way of being generous with our time and energy to others.

In ruling be fair. When one is in charge as a supervisor, remember to be humble and treat those you are in charge of, as you yourself would like to be treated. Those who lead with respect, humility and compassion will have very loyal workers who will be happy to help your team succeed at work. Together we can all achieve more with fairness and compassion, then fear or harshness can ever accomplish.

In all situations timing is key. Sometimes it is best to remain silent, while other times it is best to speak up. Seek to listen well, think deeply, work skillfully, be truthful, compassionate, generous and fair with both your co-workers and customers. You will find these time-tested techniques will help you improve your life at work and home.

I wish you all well in all the situations you find yourself in. Namaste, until next time.





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