This is the second entry of a two-part blog series on kindness in the workplace.
In my first entry, we discussed social and business benefits reaped from genuinely caring for others.
Like most things worthwhile, kindness can be an elusive concept. We all move so quickly these days that sometimes it’s difficult to know what kindness looks like or remember to use it.
Here are four ways to show kindness to everyone you encounter:
Ask a non-work-related question to a colleague or ice breaker question to a stranger
“How is the project coming along?” is a great question, but doesn’t relay “I’m concerned about your well-being.” Each day at work, ask one person a non-work-related question about a topic such as family, hobbies or even weekend plans.
For strangers, think about your elevator ride. How many of us stare at our phones either preoccupied or trying to avoid conversation? Even talking about the weather can make an impact. As someone who has experienced her fair share of awkward elevator rides, the other person might just thank you.
Re-stock your office pantry or refrigerator
Nothing says “I care” quite like “I brought food.” Our president, Paige Dawson, occasionally brings goodies or fills our pantry. The food is great, but more than that, it shows that she goes out of her way to take care of us.
If your co-workers particularly like an item, consider treating them to their favorite snack. Or surprise them one morning with donuts or breakfast burritos.
Offer to help and lend a hand
As small as holding the elevator or as big as helping a coworker move, we encounter daily opportunities to offer our assistance without realizing it. As you go through your day, look for when you may offer your help be it:
- Carrying packages
- Offering to pick up coffee or lunch
- Cleaning the break room or changing water filters
- Volunteering to help a colleague on a deadline
The old saying goes that people are often nicer to strangers than their own families (work or otherwise). Thankfully, at MPD we avoided that cliché.
Give words of encouragement
A simple “good work” or “I believe in you” can turn someone’s day around, give their week a pick-me-up or in extreme cases, save a life. Words of encouragement come in many shapes and sizes: compliments (I like your shirt); praise (your speech was fabulous); or personal gratitude (thanks for your help).
The great thing about encouraging words is you don’t have to be present to send them. Emails, texts or handwritten cards easily brighten someone’s day.
And remember: Faking it won’t work. Genuine kindness is itself a reward, and people are quick to see through fake kindness. So, take small steps and let it build.
While innate in some folks, for many, acts of kindness require some practice and guidelines. My colleagues have helped executives and junior folks (on the path to be executives) with these very skills. It seems kindness ties closely to one’s communication skills, big picture vision and leadership talent.
Yes, it can be intimidating to show someone you care. However, the benefits far outweigh the risk, as both you and others will feel happier with each small act of kindness you show.
It just takes a moment to make a memory, or a friend. Let’s go practice now.