Mindfulness and … communications?

What, you say? Yoga mats in the office? Meditation?

Mindfulness is a big buzzword right now: why we should do it, how to do it, its application in different industries and the dangers that can happen when we multitask. Yet most of us in service-related businesses still multitask on a pretty regular basis.

So no, this isn’t about yoga in the office, it’s about why communications professionals are some of the biggest offenders of multitasking and how it’s actually sabotaging our creativity and therefore our client service.

My realization about the link between mindfulness and creativity and client service wasn’t so much a lightbulb moment; it was more a gradual nagging sense that the natural curiosity I always had about things was waning. It felt like my brain couldn’t possibly process any new information because I was always in a state of output. As a result I no longer sought out new material – I just let it flow around me, sometimes absorbing it and sometimes not. When you’re constantly producing material, reviewing someone else’s material, or meeting a deadline, how can you possibly explore, learn, integrate, practice and then deliver anything new?

As client service professionals I think we are hesitant to appear that we are wasting time, not delivering value or 100% focused on our clients. Yet, that lack of attention to ourselves is exactly what kills the creativity. And lack of creativity is an often-cited reason for clients looking elsewhere.

I’ve experienced situations in which it was clear the client or colleague expected I was to be available 24/7 and oh by the way, always immediately. Unfortunately the work product that often results from that scenario is reactive, standard fare lacking in uniqueness and creativity. I would rather be the person delivering proactive, creative and different ideas, that’s why I’ve forced myself to start taking a few hours each week to think and see where it takes me.

 

A diamond in the rough

Welcome back to Gem Strategic Communications, 18 months later. The title of this post says it all: it’s not quite polished, but something amazing to uncover.

A while back I wrote about authenticity. You know, the word we all use when we do media training.

It’s kind of hard to be completely authentic as a client service-focused person. By definition, you have to provide what your audience wants. So for years I’ve dutifully written about topics I thought were appropriate, or topics that every other PR professional was also blogging about. Guess what? I’m sure my pieces were well written, but I doubt any of them oozed authenticity.

Yesterday I found myself testing out my elevator speech again. I’ve been doing it for several months now. What came out was something this:

“I’m rebooting my solo practice because I realized after a year of being back in a large setting, there is a lot of entrepreneur in me. There are many topics I want to explore about creativity, mindfulness, and leadership that I wasn’t able to do because of time constraints or it just didn’t fit in the conservative industries I served. I’m focused on opportunities with mid-sized organizations where I can provide both internal and external communications. But I’m also excited to explore where this other conversation goes and how that might impact the way I position my offering and myself moving forward.”

I sometimes get raised eyebrows and skeptical looks. I’ve also gotten outright “womp womp womp” from a few people who think I need to have my story tighter. I sense that’s because I am networking in a new way with people I have known for a long time, and it probably is uncomfortable to them. But it’s authentic.

So you won’t always find me talking about the PR topics of the day. It’s less likely you’ll find me dissecting a CEO speech or discussing a new measurement tool and more likely, you’ll find me exploring employee engagement, leadership, resilience, work-life management, health and wellness, and how it all contributes to what the outside world sees about an organization.