Updated: Sep 28, 2018
I have a confession to make.
I went to a meditation class last week and, halfway through it, fell asleep.
I woke up to the teacher telling the class that falling asleep was totally normal as you get used to the art of meditation.
He went on to say that there are many reasons why you might fall asleep in a meditation class but, in his experience, it is mostly due to having too many things on your mind and consuming too many stimulants in life - both physically and emotionally speaking.
So, when you lie down and move your mind away from all of those competing life stimulants, your body thinks it is time to catch up on some sleep. Mine certainly did!
In my few waking moments of the class, the teacher taught us a couple of daily meditation techniques, including one designed to strengthen our ability to listen.
Later that week, thinking back to that class, I thought about what he was saying in the context of my life as a communications consultant. The art of listening particularly resonated with some of the challenges my clients and employers have come across over the years when it comes to employee engagement.
Here are my top three internal communication lessons inspired by my meditation class:
1. Tune into the sounds around you
In meditation class the purpose of this is to tune out all of life’s stimulants and clear your mind.
A similar principle can be applied to internal communications, particularly when your organisation is going through a period of change.
Are you aware of the sounds around you beyond your objectives or team priorities?
When you tune into the sounds around you as a manager, what do you hear?
Are you listening to the inflections of your employees’ voices behind the words they are saying?
What are the sounds around you telling you about the climate of the work environment?
2. Listen to what your body is telling you
One of the meditation techniques we learnt was to focus on each body and part and how that was feeling.
For example, if you feel a pain in your knee, don’t shift position or ignore that sensation. Lean into the pain and acknowledge it.
This is a great to reminder when it comes to internal communications.
As team leaders or project managers, there is a natural tendency to share stories of success rather than challenges when it comes to our internal audience.
However, there is a lot to be said for acknowledging pain points in a project, either with the individuals/teams affected or in a wider communication. Employees will tune out if they don't feel as though the internal communication is authentic. Before you hit send on your next internal communication, think about all stakeholder groups and any pain points you may need to acknowledge.
3. Don’t be too hard on yourself if you ‘fall asleep’ every so often
Like meditation, workplace internal communication and employee engagement is an art that must be practiced each day to be effective.
In a workplace there will usually be other managers and team members you can lean on in times where an employee engagement sounding board is needed. Like my meditation teacher, they will be able to give you a gentle nudge to wake you up and identify a need to refocus before it becomes a major issue.
Unlike my meditation class experience, hopefully your ‘classmates’ don’t hear the sound of you snoring before that happens!