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The Japanese wisdom of chowa offers a fresh perspective on how to live and find balance in our lives.
Chowa is a Japanese concept that is often translated as ‘harmony’, but more accurately means ‘the search for balance’.
Chowa is both a philosophy and a set of practices that can help us get to the heart of what is most important to us, and, change our way of thinking about ourselves and others.
We can all use this helpful concept of chowa to find our balance at work.
Finding your balance at work is beyond just getting along with clients or colleagues.
Deadlines, stress and key performance indicators all make it difficult for us to ensure that we can manage the time we spend at work efficiently or find the balance between our work life and personal life.
Workplace chowa is about paying attention to what is going on with others, as well as what is going on with ourselves.
It also means being able to be mindful of putting just enough assertiveness and conviction to argue our case fairly with our co-workers without causing disharmony.
In Japan, many employees do some light exercises while listening to callisthenics being broadcasted before they start their day at work. These light stretches are great to get them moving together and warm up for their day ahead.
The light exercises are done by everyone and every level of management, this reminds them all that everyone in the organisation is the same and that the success of their work depends on each of their combined efforts.
In building a harmonious relationship with our colleagues, we can see holistic improvements in both work performance and employee well-being.
In the workplace, chowa includes listening to others and understanding ourselves. These are two very key skills that every employee in the organisation should have.
Here are some tips on how to listen to others more effectively:
1) Be Quiet
Try to pay attention to what the other party is saying, listening goes beyond just words, but tune in to their tone, pitch and body language as well.
2) Letting Others Speak First
Let the other person share their news first before you share yours
Let a moment of silence be your best response as sometimes the other party still has more things to say
4) Respond Kindly
Do what you can to provide a response that will make the other person feel comfortable. Try not to say anything at all if you feel that you want to say something hurtful.
Being empathetic to others is such a crucial skill in the workplace that often goes unnoticed. It is important that as a colleague, a manager or as a leader, you are there for your people.
Perhaps you can take some time to get to know yourself better so that you can become more empathetic to those in your workplace.
Try asking yourself these questions:
1) How can I help other people?
2) How can I produce my best work?
3) How can I live my fullest life?
4) Am I practising gratitude for what I have been given in this life?
In all workplaces, there are bound to be people that you don't like. Even if you don't like them, you must try to find the balance to be able to work with them without hurting the team's morales or organisational goals.
When it comes to dealing with people that you don't like, try this simple activity instead:
1) Think of the person that you do not like working with and list down the things that you do not like about them
2) Next, think of all the things that you do like about them which might have been overlooked
3) Keep going and try listing things that you do like about them until the list of things
that you like about them is longer than the list of things that you don't like about them
With this simple activity above, you would soon be able to see your colleagues in a new light and form new opinions about them which help you to live a happier life and build more balanced relationships at work.