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How to train your mind and heart to cut workplace stress and lead with compassion

The pressure and uncertainty of the pandemic has hit mental wellbeing hard this year. In her OWP liVe keynote, social neuroscientist Professor Tania Singer will explore how mind training can foster vital soft leadership skills.
November 2020

Faced with the mental health impact of the pandemic, more and more business leaders are embracing mindfulness and empathy techniques to better understand the challenges they face, how to address them and how to lead teams through adversity.

In her OWP liVe keynote address, “Plasticity of the social brain: from training the mind and heart to a more caring society”, Singer – Scientific Head of the Max Planck Society’s Social Neuroscience Lab – will explore how leaders can transform their organizations and improve mental wellbeing through specific mind training techniques.

In particular, Singer will share findings from the ReSource Project, a large one-year secular mental training program focused on non-religious, evidence-based methods: “It aimed to cultivate attention, awareness, perspective-taking, compassion and pro-social behaviors, while at the same time reducing stress, and improving mental and physical health,” she said.

The project, which studied more than 200 people across more than 90 metrics, included new ways of training social intelligence, self-awareness and empathy through meditation-based mental exercises. For example, according to the study, ten minutes of daily guided listening, in which participants learn to take in and appreciate the perspectives of others, can lead to excellent results.

“We produced evidence that some of our mental training modules reduced 51% of the social stress response of our participants,” she said.

Based on these findings, Professor Singer will offer OWP participants new ways to train the brain and develop greater compassion to lead in business and develop new economic models.

“Many of our findings show that compassion is not just a luxury or a weak feeling,” said the neuroscientist, “but a powerful source to improve important social skills, altruism and global cooperation.”

Implementing mental training into businesses could also help executives better address complex issues and workplace stress by re-introducing secular ethics that promote the idea of taking responsibility through compassionate leadership.

“Although it’s never too late to begin, we should already introduce mental practices including social partner exercises in schools to reduce bullying and social stress and increase social skills – which are needed more than ever in our modern world,” she said.  

Professor Tania Singer delivers the keynote address at OWP liVe on Thursday, November 19.