Kindness at Work
Throughout the generations, kindness in the workplace has not been a key priority.
If anything, the belief that it’s a “dog eat dog world”, and “you’ve got to be cut throat to stay ahead in business”, successfully oiled the wheels for a culture of employee backstabbing and competition for many years.
Thankfully people are fast waking up to the realisation that to achieve sustainable high performance, an organisation’s workforce can not be viewed as another set of systems to be simply coerced and manipulated in the name of profit.
Interpersonal relationships are an integral part of any business and people will not thrive in environments where they do not trust others or feel safe.
A working culture that values kindness serves to encourage people to support others when they’re having difficulties. It also helps to provide a nurturing environment where creativity. motivation and cooperation can flourish. In turn people can grow, develop and thrive.
We can all play our part in helping the transition to a more compassionate, kinder way of working – whether you’re a team member, a leader, or both.
Here are a few key ideas to help you on your way.
Increase Your Awareness
We are all busy people and sometimes it’s easy to fall into routines that can isolate and devalue people.
Increase your awareness. Open your eyes and ears to the effects of your actions. How compassionate are you on a daily basis?
How often do you take time to show people that you actually notice them?
How do you ensure your team members know they are valued as people, not just as ‘cogs’ serving a function in the workplace?
- Say hello to colleagues in the corridor
- Remember people’s names
- Greet people in the morning
- If someone has changed their hairstyle, or is wearing a nice outfit, compliment them
- Take time to chat – show them you’re interested in their lives
- Ask how their weekend went
- Try to remember details about your colleagues and refer back to them to show your interest is genuine
- If you haven’t spoken to someone for a while, send them a quick message to see how they are
- Tag them in a post, or send them a funny GIF, it shows you are thinking about them – It shows them that you care.
Show Your Gratitude
Gratitude is fundamental for our own wellbeing but showing gratitude to others is equally important. People appreciate positive feedback, whether they’re a cleaner, the CEO, a manager, a team mate, or a receptionist. Gratitude shows them that what they do is noticed and valued – in turn it shows them that they are noticed and valued.
There are so many ways that you can easily show someone that you’re thankful for their contributions, from small acts that cost nothing, to larger ‘thank yous’ depending on your role. Here are just a few ideas…
- Pick up the phone or, even better, tell them in person
- Send a note in an email, a card or even leave a post-it note on their desk
- Give them a Groupon Voucher for a Spa Day, or a Family Outing or pay for them to take their partner out for a meal
- Let them finish early, or give them the day off
- Tell others about their good work, whether that’s in a team meeting, talking to their line manager or by writing a testimonial or referral for them
- If a client or team member shares positive comments about your colleague, make sure you pass it on
- Buy them a coffee, bunch of flowers, plant for their desk, box of chocolates or even a bag of Haribos!
- Send out a tweet or a post to acknowledge what they have done and to say thanks
- If they share something useful on social media, engage with the post – It could be a comment, a share or simply a ‘like’, it literally takes a few seconds of your time but it shows you saw and appreciated their contribution
Celebrate, Commiserate and Support
Saying ‘hello’ in the corridor and sending a thank you note occasionally is a good start, but it doesn’t promote a culture of kindness on an ongoing basis.
Cultivating compassionate working relationships is a continual process of helping and supporting through the good times and the challenging times.
- When a team member achieves, congratulate and celebrate with them – online, in person, in a team meeting or over a pint after work!
- Buy them a cake, write them a card, share the good news with others in the organisation!
- If they’re having difficulties, see how you can help – from picking up files from the floor, to discovering that they need to leave work to deal with a family emergency
- If they have a problem that you can’t assist them with, help them to find other methods of support
- If you see something that they may be useful them, whether it’s a course, a report, or a post – send them a link
- When someone wants to talk with you, put away your phone, look up from your screen – show them that you are listening
- Be open to their suggestions, allow them a voice, and even if you disagree, respond with honesty but also with compassion – yes, it can be challenging but it is possible!
Actively Nurture Kindness
Kindness doesn’t just apply to the direct interactions we have with individuals. Developing a more compassionate work culture is also about the behaviours we unwittingly condone and engage in with others.
If you’re talking about a colleague, think about how they would feel if they could hear your words – would they be happy or hurt by what you are saying?
Consider the nature of banter and jokes in the office and online. Is the humour genuinely shared by all, including the target of the joke? Or are their responses and hesitant smiles purely a mask?
Avoid getting embroiled in negative, backstabbing conversations. Try to raise other people’s awareness the potential consequences or simply walk away. It will be better for your wellbeing, as well as helping to dampen the fuel of negativity in the gossip machine.
It is up to all of us to help to contribute to a kinder way of life. It may feel challenging sometimes, but remember, all of our actions create ripples. It is up to us to choose what kind of ripples we want to create.
Your decision to actively contribute to a kinder workplace, will not only help to increase your team’s productivity and performance, it will also help to make your organisation a place that people actually want to be part of.