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You may associate feng shui with rearranging your home, but this ancient Chinese practice has applications that extend well beyond the walls of your abode. Feng shui (pronounced "fung shway") literally means "wind and water" and is a principle that intends to help people live in harmony with their environment for a more joyful, prosperous existence. The theory behind the practice is that energy is always moving, but that there are certain places where it can pool, either blocking or aiding the flow of chi (good energy).
While these tenets may enhance your home, they might also be able to give you an edge at work. For example, it's said that many Chinese businessmen used to be (and perhaps still are) reluctant to sign contracts without first using the laws of feng shui to maximize their chi. Whether you do business in the company conference room, your cubicle or at a local coffee shop, try employing these feng shui beliefs to bring good fortune to your next meeting.
Make a Power Play Here's motivation to be the first one to the conference room: You can nab the "power position." The best place to sit in a meeting is the seat diagonally opposite the door, according to feng shui expert, Jayme Barrett, author of Feng Shui Your Life. From this spot you'll be able to survey the entire room and see anyone who enters or leaves, which may give you a sense of security and an extra dose of confidence. If you can't snag the power position, avoid any seat where your back faces the door, which is considered to be bad luck, in part because it prevents you from seeing who is coming and going.
Talk in Circles Try to hold meetings at a round table. In addition to making it easier to communicate with others, circular tables cultivate harmony. "A round or oval table promotes unity, creativity and a sense of teamwork," Barrett says. Plus, in feng shui, corners on square or rectangular furniture are thought to pierce good energy, where rounded edges allow chi to circulate more easily.
Go Green Put plants in corners to foster harmony among employees and potential clients, Barrett says. Western feng shui suggests that humans and plants go well together because their coexistence cultivates a balance of yin and yang. If your office or cubicle is a frequent meeting destination, keep a fern or succulent somewhere people can't miss it. Or, if you meet in a shared space like a conference room, maybe you'll want to donate a plant to the space.
Turn on the Water Works Have you ever noticed how many Chinese restaurants have aquariums? It's no coincidence. In feng shui, water represents prosperity. If you have control over your meeting area, think about placing a water feature, such as a fish tank or a tabletop water fountain, in the back left corner of the room, which is the area associated with wealth, according to Barrett. In a pinch, some images of a babbling brook or placid ocean can do the trick.
Clean House A messy workstation or conference room could cloud your mind, preventing you from thinking clearly. "A clutter-free environment is key if you desire a clear vision for your career," Barrett says. So try to keep both your personal and shared workspaces as tidy as you can.
Cut Down on Overhead Ceiling fans, exposed beams and other overhead fixtures are thought to disturb your chi. Avoid sitting directly below any of these features.
Humble Brag Deck out your go-to gathering place with certificates of excellence, news clippings about your company's success or anything else that boosts your collective sense of self-worth, Barrett suggests. "These achievements are continually sending you and your visitors messages of credibility and merit," she says. Conversely, you'll also want to remove any items that make you think of unsuccessful projects, as they may subconsciously create a feeling of inadequacy, Barrett says. She also recommends putting reminders of your goals on display for continued motivation. So, if there's a memento that makes you and your colleagues think of an account you're hoping to land, go ahead and mount it on the wall.