The importance of ahimsa in the office

Most of us spend a good portion of our time in the office, so much so that we could very well see our colleagues more than our families and friends. Therefore, it is crucial to practise ahimsa in the office. The logic is simple. If you are going to spend so much time with these people, why not make the most of it and create a pleasant and harmonious working environment.

What is ahimsa? 

Ahimsa, in its simplest form, means non-violence. This non-violence is physical, verbal and mental. A person who has attained ahimsa would not have any negative thoughts about others and likewise others would not have such thoughts when they come in contact with him or her. Non-violence has transformed to the love for all.

Ahimsa in the office

Picture this. You are part of a small team working on a project and the client that your team is dealing with is a modern day monster. Every time there are feedbacks from the client, the entire team makes nasty comments about the client and what he or she has said. This might seem normal and perfectly fine but being hostile to someone who is not physically there would have already rubbed your team the wrong way.

When a problem arises, instead of dealing with the issue, the team might end up spending time hurling insults at the client and indulging in a sea of negativity. Efficiency is compromised. At the same time, because everyone would have formed their own perception of this client, you and your teammates might not see eye to eye with each other as to how to resolve the problem. Tension rises, no one is happy and people start making judgments about one another. Some might be vocal about it while others might keep whatever negative thoughts to themselves. The camaraderie of the team is soured and it becomes a vicious cycle.

This simple “based-on-a-true-story” office scenario shows how easy it is to create tension and have work efficiency compromised. While it is impossible for everyone to practise ahimsa or truly embrace it, the situation could have been a lot better if the negative words and thoughts are reduced. Remember, negative energy can be very contagious.

Here are 5 tips to practise ahimsa and promote a better working environment:

1. Don’t be too quick to react. We are often too quick to make comments that we will regret after. Question yourself if it would help the situation by saying the thought that comes straight to your mind.

2. When you see something good, say something nice. The subject in matter could be your colleague, your client or the project. Giving compliments increases positivity and encourages non-violent attitudes.

3. Voice your real concern. Don’t be clouded by the negative thoughts you have. Focus on the real issue at hand and voice it out. Your colleagues would be appreciative of an honest feedback and help could be given if required.

4. Be in other’s shoes. It helps to understand where the other party is coming from, be it your colleagues or clients. You might still not agree but you become more sympathetic of the situation and are likely to have less nasty thoughts.

5. Take deep breaths. Or even meditate. Take your mind off what is frustrating you and zen out for a moment. Calm down and look at it again. If this doesn’t help, do yoga after work!

As mentioned in Tirisula Yoga Training Manual, “what we do echoes back.” So it is very important to practise ahimsa in the office. If everyone is non-violent to each other and negative energy is kept minimal, the working environment would be a lot more conducive and pleasant. Who wouldn’t want that, right?

Ryan Ong (200hr YTT Weekend/Jul 2015)
Yoga Philosophy