Even if your goal isn’t to be an everyday yoga practitioner, a little more loving-kindness towards yourself can never hurt.
Two billion people worldwide do yoga, and about 20 million of them live in the US. Conversely, nearly 3 million people in the US work in customer support. Numerically, your chances of being a support person and someone who does yoga are pretty high. And, even if you aren’t, there are tons of reasons why you should maybe give it a try. Yoga helps your mental, physical and emotional health, while also giving you an outlet to get out some of your energy from being cooped up inside at your computer all day.
Beyond actually practicing yoga, though, there are benefits to treating your day-to-day job in support like you do your yoga practice. It provides you with a level of mental clarity and space to do the work that you might not have otherwise. Here are a few ways that you can integrate this level of mindfulness into your everyday.
Get better without an end goal
In yoga, there isn’t an end goal. It’s yoga practice, not yoga perfect. The same principle applies to your job. If you treat each day as an opportunity to learn rather than a chance to achieve, you open yourself to new possibilities that you might not have seen otherwise.
For instance, when a customer reaches out about a refund, some people may go straight to acting based on their policies. A person who approaches life as a student will use every opportunity to better understand their customers’ motivations. Like in yoga, leading with playful, curious interest does you better in your support role than sticking to policies or the beaten path.
Increase your self-awareness
In yoga, there are postures that we love and positions that we know we hate. Encouraging ourselves to work on poses that are uncomfortable or difficult for us allows us to grow. The same is true when working in support.
Are there customers that irk you? Situations that really grind your gears? In those moments, when you feel yourself starting to tense up or sending a response that is less than encouraging, take a moment to reflect.
Why does the conversation frustrate you? What assumptions are you bringing to the table? Taking these opportunities to explore your feelings will make you a better person, and a better support representative. You’ll be better equipped to handle frustrating situations moving forward because you’ll know exactly why they are triggering you and how to counteract them.
Repetitive movements build strength
Whether you’re just starting your customer support journey, or learning how to do yoga, working on the same things every day will build your strength and ability to do them better later. In yoga, this could present itself as chaturanga (a low plank) or downward-facing dog, but in support, this could be learning to use internal tools or understanding existing processes.
These small movements seem, well, small, but when you do them over and over again, they become muscle memory instead of something that you need to keep practicing. Things that at first took effort and energy become effortless and easy. Once you’ve got that practice under your belt, you can tackle harder, more challenging work.
Keep your balance
In a yoga practice, large chunks of the work are devoted to balancing both sides of your body. Beyond that, there’s also literal balancing! In support, you also need to put effort into both your work inside the queue and out. You need to stay balanced.
How much time do you spend in the queue? Do you ever take time to work on projects contributing to your company’s customer experience in other ways? Just like in yoga, you have to work on the side that comes less easily to you.
For many support people, the work in the queue provides a dopamine hit. It’s a comfortable, safe place—and it can feel uncomfortable to get out. However, working on projects outside of the inbox helps you contribute to company goals differently from hammering through tickets. It also encourages the use of different parts of your brain and develops your personal and professional strengths.
Yoga is about much more than the practice itself—it’s about the community. When you go to the yoga studio or practice virtually, it’s just as important who you are sharing space with as what you are doing in that space. It can even change the way that you feel about the individual class itself. If the teacher has an attitude that you don’t jive with or you’re practicing next to a stranger, it feels much different from when you’re with a teacher you love or flowing next to a friend.
In support, relationships have the power to make or break an interaction, too.
Building relationships with your customers helps boost loyalty, but it also makes for a more meaningful and enriching experience for you. If you treat every customer as the opportunity to create a new friendship, your day will go by quicker, tickets can feel less painful, and you’ll find more job satisfaction.
In yoga, when things get tricky, our teachers advocate for us to breathe through it. Rather than running from something, we are encouraged to stick with it and find the strength within ourselves and our breath.
Have you ever had a ticket where you wrote a response, saved the draft, took a breath, and then returned to review it only to be shocked by the tone you used? That’s the power of breathing in support. When things start to get stressful, or your ability to care is stretched thin, take your hands off the keyboard, and take a few grounding breaths.
Slowing your breathing is scientifically proven to help you regulate your stress responses, increase alertness, and reduce your feelings of anxiety. So not only is it beneficial in support and yoga but life in general.
The support person in me sees the support person in you
We could all do with a bit more mindfulness and peace in our lives. Even if your goal isn’t to be an everyday yoga practitioner, a little more loving-kindness towards yourself can never hurt. Work to increase your self-awareness, and try to be better without a particular end goal in mind. Isn’t it enough to be nice for niceness’ sake? Remember to practice the same things every day. It might seem tedious in the short-term, but it generates muscles that help you level up beyond your wildest dreams. Maintain your balance: too much of a good thing isn’t a good thing, and working the different parts of your brain makes you a better-balanced person.
Remember, in all things: breathe. Breath is the foundation of life and will make everything seem more manageable if you give it a chance. Namaste!