I firmly believe that practicing kindness is living a good life. People don’t always expect or experience kindness, so when you make that little extra effort to be kind, it means a lot to them and to you too. Being kind to others helps you feel good as you know you’ve done something good for someone else, and that they have truly appreciated it. And the world is in need of kindness.
Here are some way I think we can practice kindness at work. We spend a lot of time with the people we work with, and we rarely get to chose them. We are thrown together, and those relationships can be rocky at times. Having worked with people who did not think like me, work like me, or even like me, I know. I also know how wonderful it is to work with people who are open minded, willing to listen and work with you instead of ignoring your efforts or making you do it all on your own.
I do think however, that if you work in a toxic work environment this doesn’t apply. Toxic workplaces aren’t going to improve because you are kind. In fact, others might perceive that as weakness. But, if you work in an environment that is not toxic, these are good methods to build positive relationships and reinforce those relationships.
Kindness Act One
Bring coffee to work for others. It could be the whole office, or perhaps just a few people you work closely with. It’s small, and it’s “just coffee” but it can often help others feel as though you appreciate them. Say something like, “you’ve worked hard, I thought we’d share a cup together” or, “I know it was a long week and thought I’d get you a little pick me up” acknowledges them and their efforts and goes a long way to letting others know they are making a difference.
Kindness Act Two
Reply to a work email in a positive way. This year was a year of odd and unexpected change in my place of work, and I noticed that many of us were trying to pull together by being more social outside of work and replying to emails with positive comments. Something like “thanks for taking care of this!” or, “I love this idea. Let me know if I can help” can really say to others, you are not alone. It’s quick and easy and kind, so not why do it if you can?
Kindness Act Three
Pay a compliment. And I don’t just mean, I like your shirt type of compliment. Let someone know they’ve done something well. Even if you’re their boss. If they’ve organized the supply closet, let them know they’ve done a good job and it’s appreciated. We really don’t hear praise enough, yet if you think back to your school days your teachers were always praising and encouraging you. You might not be little Sally anymore, but we all need a pat on the head and a smile from time to time. So let your co-worker know they’ve done a good job.
Kindness Act Four
Help others if you can. We all have our own work at work, so you can’t do everyone’s job for them, but you can help them out. If you know someone is having a hard time with something, whether it’s at work or at home, offer to help out with something. It could be something small like taking over their lunchroom cleanup duty for the day or week, or it could be offering to take on an extra project or provide input for it. It’s easy to turn our back and think, that’s not my problem, but I know that often when I’ve been in the middle of hard times I wished someone would help me. People don’t always ask for help, even if they need it, often because they don’t want to burden others. Be kind, help if you can.
Kindness Act Five
Say thank you. It’s a thankless world. And hardly anyone thanks you for the great things you do whether it’s at work or at home. So if someone has done a great job, or did something to help you, say thank you personally, and let them know why you’re grateful. It’s not hard saying, “thank you for putting together that presentation on workplace safety; it was good that you took the time to remind of us these rules” or, “this lunch you organized for us was a real treat. Thank you.” I tell you in my line of work, there are lots of people who should say thank you and so few that do that when someone does it always makes my day.
Is any of this hard to do? Does it cost much–or anything? We need more kindness in this world, and we can’t really live a good life without it. If all we do is only for ourselves, then our interactions with others will likely be entitled, mean and boarding on abuse. Whereas, if you are kind, you are less likely to be centred only on your needs and wants and your interactions with others will be more accepting, compassionate and supportive. This is, in my opinion, how we build respect and community, and how we can all work towards making the world a better place.
What small acts of kindness do you practice? Share in the comments.