Mindfully Working Together

Working Therapies recently worked with a fabulous Residential Care Service, facilitating a Mindful Communication Workshop. One factor which made it such a marvellous event was that all departments took part; from Directors, Finance and HR to the very newest residential workers.

Having worked in Residential Care myself for the last 20 years in a Senior Management role and later in Consultancy, I know that this doesn’t happen often, but it should; it’s where the best results occur.

Training is often put on for staff to meet legislative requirements but does not cross all departments, therefore everyone works differently. An organisation, like a machine, needs all the pieces working together if it’s going to run smoothly. This particular training wasn’t a requirement, it was requested to improve communication throughout the organisation and designed in close consultation with them.

As a Director or Manager, I know it’s not an easy option to sit in a workshop with staff that aren’t always happy with the organisation’s decisions and processes. Training days are often the place where staff air their dissatisfaction with an organisation.

Whatever business, there are always those that feel hard done by and if there is dissatisfaction among the ranks, it’s often aimed towards those who make the rules. It happens in every industry, it’s nothing new; downstairs have always had a problem with those ringing the bell above.

For processes to be understood by all, everyone needs to know their role within them if they going to work. An open and transparent space where it is safe to share views, listen to others views and objections, learn new strategies and be heard, helps put minds at rest and prevents assumptions being made.

It’s not easy pleasing everybody all of the time, but to be considered and informed certainly makes things a lot easier. When you understand the why’s and wherefores it’s easier to accept and work with something new and let’s be honest; even if you don’t wholeheartedly agree with something it feels a whole lot better to have been thought about and consulted.

This particular workshop was looking at the present communication throughout the organisation, how bringing a more mindful approach would improve relationships and organisational objectives. We thought about how a mindful approach to others showed far more consideration of their feelings. We looked at and practiced empathic listening, in listening without judgement and in sensing what it’s like to be the speaker, showing respect and valuing what another person was saying.

We practiced summarizing impressions, without interrupting or making comment to build upon existing relationships and reduce any misunderstandings. We thought about the ways that we listen, such as listening to reply or listening to understand. We considered the blocks to communication we are all guilty of, bringing them into the open, allowing us to watch for them and make adjustments.

This workshop was effective in that everybody worked together, a cross section of departments mixing into small groups for group exercises, bringing some interesting feedback and whole-group learning. This organisation put individual roles and positions aside for the day to work together. That this happened, showed a commitment to everybody in the organisation and commitment to improving communication throughout.

Change happens when people work together, from top to bottom and across all departments. To repeat an old adage ‘everyone must be singing from the same song sheet’ if everybody is going to be in tune.

As mentioned previously, this particular organisation was a Residential Care Service, working with the most vulnerable children. It’s so important that those working with children ensure their own communication with each other is good before they undertake any work with troubled children. Focusing on how a team communicates with each other will only improve the communication throughout the service, including with those vulnerable young people for whom the service is intended.

Internal communication must be good within an organisation if it is going to grow and build relationships outside of itself, and a good start is to have open relationships within.

We enjoyed the day ourselves and the feedback from the group on the day was great. We hope to run these and similar workshops with other organisations and build upon them in the future.


Working Therapies main aim in working with organisations, is to reduce workplace stress and improve communication www.workingtherapies.co.uk