Eileen Fisher’s Tips For Making Work More Mindful

Step one: Give people space.

Eileen Fisher’s Tips For Making Work More Mindful
Eileen Fisher, founder and chairwoman of Eileen Fisher, Inc. [Photo: Samantha Casolari]

As the visionary behind a $400 million fashion juggernaut, Eileen Fisher has always pushed hard to maximize her brand’s impact. The designer has also long found meaning and inspiration through meditation and mindfulness practices—which she has worked to integrate into the workplace.

“Meditation gives you a little space between things, a chance to stop and make choices,” Fisher said at the Fast Company Innovation Festival in November. “We get very busy, and we do a lot of things that really aren’t purposeful or meaningful or even true to who we are. But if we make a little space, then we can stop and go, hmm. We take a moment of silence before our meetings. It’s about giving people that little bit of space.

“We [also] have this practice of active listening, where you’ll sit with another person and [both of you are] asked a question. You let the other person answer for two minutes and you just listen. And then you talk for two minutes. What happens is that you feel really connected to that person you just had a four-minute conversation with. Sometimes [people will] say, ‘Oh, my God, I don’t remember anyone listening to me like that before.’ As we do it more and more, we build these connections across the company, this relational field where people feel like they know people and can call [them]. When you know someone, you care in a different way, and [ideas] start to spring up through different connections. When people are passionate and connected and feel purposeful, they come up with [surprising] things.”