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Circle Culture at Work

There are numerous tools and methods to bring more awareness and mindfulness into our workplace and meeting culture. Even more so when we dare to look beyond the usual business horizon and let ourselves be inspired by seemingly distant worlds - like conscious, spiritual communities.

In my private life, I’ve been sitting in many circles and ceremonies with conscious communities over the past years.

In these communities, it is common to come together in circles for all types of interactions - from rituals and festivities to cooking and eating, to meet. These circles are well-designed spaces where everyone is intentional in their interactions and deliberate about what they want to create together.

Experiencing this taught me a lot about mindful, almost sacred ways of communication and interaction with others.

So, when I recently started my job at ATCH, I wondered:

How can I, together with my colleagues, incorporate these circle culture practices into the workspace, especially into our meeting culture?

And how can we translate them in an easy, digestible way to create a more mindful way of working together?

We soon discovered, there are many opportunities to weave what I had learned in circles and ceremonies into our daily work life.

I like to share what we're currently exploring - individually and as a team.

Maybe you feel inspired to give it a try as well.

Or maybe you come up with other approaches specifically designed for you and your team? We'd love to hear about it!

A little side note:

Not all these methods work for every company or team, and they don’t have to. #youdoyou

Also, no need to apply everything at once. We started with 1-2 aspects and, over time, add some more and adjust others. Experimenting, reflecting, realigning, like we love to do.

#1: Set a clear, shared intention for your meeting or get-together.

Before you begin a new work week, come together as a team, or start a meeting, take a moment to set a shared intention. You may do this by asking yourself:

Why are we doing this?
What is the purpose, the achieved outcome of our time together, the upcoming week, the meeting?
Where do we want to focus our awareness and attention on?

There may be different perspectives and opinions but aim to find the underlying common sense, so everyone is clear about why you’re here and where you’re heading. Being on the same page not only creates a sense of belonging but also enhances (intrinsic) motivation.

#2: Start your meeting with one minute of silence.

A moment of stillness and inward focus. Eyes closed, just breathing. This allows everyone to fully arrive in the shared space and focus on the set intention.

Oftentimes we rush from one meeting to another, one last phone call, one last email - our mind is scattered and we’re lacking focus. So, by taking a minute to arrive, we become present, and leave everything behind that is not necessarily needed at this moment.

It is also a great way to end a meeting and consciously leave the shared space.

#3: Be fully present.

Our fully committed presence is probably the greatest gift we can give to one another. So next time you’re in a meeting or attending a presentation - stop scrolling through your phone, stop answering emails, and just give the person in front of you your undivided attention. Consciously listen to what this person has to say.

If you want to take it even further: Take a moment of stillness after a person has shared their opinion on a topic; giving each other time to let sink in what just has been said. Make use of the space between stimulus and response.

© Mathilde Langevin

#4: Be mindful of each other’s time.

Each circle and ceremony, as well as each work meeting or get-together, has a (more or less) fixed beginning and end. By being mindful of the schedule – show up on time, start on time, end on time; no matter if you are the host or just participating – you are also being mindful of the other persons' time, which is a very precious good.

This also means trying to stay until the end of a meeting. Someone might have invested a lot of time and energy in a presentation – acknowledge this by being present until they are fully finished.

You may experience a total change of flow when you start and end a meeting as a closed group.

#5: Name a ‘master of ceremony‘

In every circle and ceremony, there is a ‘master of ceremony‘. Someone who holds the space and leads the other participants through the time together. I experienced myself that it makes a great difference to have a ‘master of ceremony’ in your business meeting, as well.

Someone who takes the lead, who keeps an eye on the timing, cares for equal participation of all attendees. Someone who simply holds the space, so others may feel more relaxed to open up, participate, and expand.

Note: It doesn’t necessarily have to be the person who scheduled the meeting or someone in a leadership position. It can be anyone who feels called to hold space.

#6: Shake things up from time to time.

No circle is the same, and this also applies to meetings. While it might be good to keep certain rituals and routines, it fosters our creativity (and may spark some joy) when we shake things up from time to time.

Go for a walk together instead of sitting in a conference room. Come together in a chair circle instead of sitting around the table. Take your upcoming team meeting to a new location. Experience and learn new things together.

© Antenna

#7: Cultivate open sharing.

A short sharing circle at the beginning of a week or a meeting, where everyone can let the others know how they are feeling right now. Am I stressed and need support? Am I full of energy and can take the load from someone else?

By sharing our current state of being, we give others the possibility to meet us in this space. Isn’t this beautiful? Knowing when someone’s having a hard time - you may offer help. When you know that another team member can take on more - you may ask for support.

I won’t deny – it might be challenging to share with your co-workers and maybe even your boss how you’re doing. But in the end, we’re all humans, with feelings and emotions and struggles. Vulnerability is the key to create an authentic workplace culture (a topic that deserves a whole blog post of its own - coming soon!).


Lena is a Ritual Designer, Well-being Consultant, Yoga Teacher, Women's Circle Facilitator, Cacao Guardian and Spiritual Artist (also: a hands-on Project Manager). She is convinced that rituals have the ability to reinforce behaviors and beliefs, and that we can use them to steer the corporate or team culture in an intended direction. Rituals can address weaknesses in team dynamics or they can reinforce behaviors that are working well.

As a trained 'Feelgood Manager', yoga teacher and experienced designer of rituals and gatherings in private and business contexts, Lena has been guiding people and organizations in shaping their culture in a meaningful way for many years.


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