Kindness in the Workplace

Female office worker holding papers while colleagues meet in background
Female office worker holding papers while colleagues meet in background

I've recently come off an eleven-week project, traveling all over the country, for my corporate job. During that time, I was fortunate to spend a great deal of time working closely with colleagues on a new program we are launching.

The days spent with my team got me thinking about what it means to be kind at the office. On many occasions, I was filled with gratitude for the way my team inspired and motivated me, and recognized one another's efforts.

Here are some ways that we can all spread a little more love in the place we spend so much of our time.

One of the easiest ways to share joy with others is to let them know you are grateful for them. It's often too easy to focus on what others do that agitates or displeases us, however, we should seek to balance that out by thinking of things we appreciate in those around us:

Did someone do a great job on a presentation? Help you close a sale? Listen while you vented? Offer a great solution?

Two words that are always appreciated and that create positive energy in your workplace: "Thank you." I try to set a personal goal to genuinely say "thank you" at least five times each day. It's nice to let someone know that you recognize his or her efforts; both you and the other person benefit from the exchange. Having a "thank you" goal will help you to remember to do this, even when things might be hectic.

Finding ways at work to help others is one of the simplest things to do to create an environment of kindness. Offering to assist on a project, cover someone's shift, run a meeting, or recapping a call, are all ways that you can provide support to those around you.

It means so much to someone else when you offer to lighten the load. Most of the time the offer is appreciated more than the act itself. In finding ways to pitch in wherever you can, you become a good teammate and a great part of your workplace culture.

Letting Others Lead
I noticed early in my project that I was often happy to take the lead; it felt good to be important and valued. What I quickly realized was even more important than my own desire to be a leader, was to give others their opportunity to shine.

In our places of work, one of the kindest things we can do is to lift others up around us. Asking someone their thoughts or input on a project plan, offering to let someone else take the lead on a call or a meeting, or sharing the recognition you receive with a colleague who helped make it happen, are all ways you can show others how much you value their leadership.

Learning from peers
In the final day of our project, I spent time thinking what I had learned from each person. I was impressed at how much knowledge and unique perspective I had gained from the ten other people I'd been working with More than co-workers, we became a kind of family, having been with each other for so many days, so far from home. Through that experience, I realized just how much impact colleagues can make on you - in every work environment. I set out to let them each know what I had learned and how I valued them.

In today's fast-paced world, it's far too seldom that we take time to really think about what we are learning and who is shaping our knowledge. It's important to set aside time to identify how others have impacted you in a positive way. The kindness comes in when you share that with others, and let people know what you have gleaned from their personal approach to work.

In the case my group,I learned things like directness, humility, love, and humor, just to name a few. I was grateful to spend time acknowledging each person and what I would take with me from the experience.

Kindness at Work
In many instances, we spend nearly as much time working as we do in our personal lives--sometimes more. While it's easy to get caught up in all the things we don't like about our situations, it can feel better to think about the things we do. They say that life is a reflection of what you put out into the world, and at work it's important to spread positivity as often as possible. When we remember that most around us are all doing the best we can, and it's easy to appreciate others for their efforts and to be supportive of those who might be struggling. It makes for a nicer work environment and an even nicer life.