Image of two banners from a mindfulness event we held at the AEA conference with a title that says "How can mindfulness make you a better evaluator?"

Earlier this fall at the American Evaluation Association conference in Cleveland, The Improve Group hosted a Mindfulness Space. In partnership with AEA, we created a calm space near some natural light (and a surprise urban farm in the area outside!) with meditation resources, an activities table, fruit-infused water, and other resources for mindfulness. We see mindfulness as closely tied with our value of thoughtfulness and wanted to create a space for conference attendees to take a mindful moment amid the conference.

We truly enjoyed the conversations we had with visitors about mindfulness, how we see it show up in our work as evaluators, and everyone’s conference experience. Keeping true to evaluation, we also asked folks to share in their own words how they think mindfulness makes them better evaluators. We heard a lot from our visitors, including about how being mindful opens one up to new perspectives:

  • Mindfulness helps me bring awareness to new perspectives and bring light to what my biases might be
  • Openness to new ideas and perspectives
  • Mindfulness allows me to take a step back, breathe, to see things from a different perspective
  • Broaden your perspective/reduce “tunnel vision”
  • Mindfulness calms one’s brain and body which can allow new insights into your evaluation when you are stuck

We also heard the benefits of mindfulness for easing stress and anxiety, which can then improve an evaluator’s work:

  • Easing anxiety to clear my mind
  • It can help me to be focused and less stressed, which will hopefully improve my role as an evaluator.
  • Calmness and perspective, critical thinking

Pictures from our mindfulness space at AEA

And, visitors to our space reflected on mindfulness as a way to be more aware of bias and judgment:

  • Pause to be more aware of your unconscious bias/judgment
  • By being mindful, I am aware of my biases in an evaluation

Check out the rest of the answers below:

  • Helps me know when to pivot while facilitating and better read the room in general
  • Prevent jumping to conclusions
  • Gives my brain space to reflect and improve my practice—what is my intention as an evaluator, in this space?
  • Ability to slow down and check our assumptions that run on default when you’re on auto-pilot
  • Better active listener
  • Mindfulness is important for everyone! As evaluators we can practice mindfulness and encourage mindful practices with our clients. :)
  • Mindfulness enables me to be fully engaged during all aspects of the evaluation, leading to more accurate measurements and meaningful results.
  • Mindfulness helps me reduce self-judgment about my evaluation skills.
  • Helps me be more kind

Thanks to everyone who visited our Mindfulness Space for meditation, a meaningful conversation, coloring, or just for a moment of peace!