A simple act of kindness can be a powerful thing. Treat someone kindly, and it will change their outlook. They will see the world through a different lens. They will remember what you did, and be more likely to treat others the same way. The effect spreads from person to person, creating a ripple of goodwill.
Treat someone badly, though, and it has the opposite effect. Be selfish, mean or rude towards someone, and they will see the world as a cold, negative place. They will be more likely to transfer that negativity onto others, and on and on it goes.
The way we treat people has the power to change the world – so shouldn’t we be using kindness to change it for the better?
Kindness in the workplace
The workplace can be a challenging environment. We spend a large proportion of our lives there, alongside people we wouldn’t otherwise know. We are forced to coexist in groups full of contrasting personalities and opinions. With the added pressure of results, deadlines and performance, it can be a stressful, scary, place. It can sometimes feel like nobody understands or cares. This is why it is particularly important to be kind at work.
In a recent blog post, we invited readers to share their experiences of kindness in the workplace via an anonymous survey. The results were truly heart-warming, and brought to life the positive impact that kindness can have. While there were too many responses to list in full, here are a selection of the ones we received.
What is the kindest thing someone has ever done for you at work?
“Really listened. The mentor program at MHR gave me someone who had no agenda other than my welfare in mind.”
“Allowed me to understand HR processes stress-free when I had little knowledge in a highly stressful and understaffed environment.”
“Bought me flowers when I was having a really bad day.”
“Talked me off a train when I got claustrophobic on the way to a meeting.”
“Took me kayaking when I was off sick with depression.”
“Supported me beautifully when I got a call to say my father had died. Made me a cup of tea. Sat with me whilst I cried. Drove me home.”
“One of my senior managers came to tell me that she sometimes has full on meltdowns at home after I had had a meltdown at work. It was so kind because it made me feel normal!”
What is the kindest thing you have ever done for someone else at work?
“Moved working hours around to allow someone to see their daughters first day of school.”
“Gone out of my way, at short notice, to give someone a lift in my car when they were in need.”
“Recognised when someone was having a confidence crisis and undertook to send them tailored inspirational quotes for a week to help them see how special they are.”
“Held someone’s hands and went through grounding techniques when they had a panic attack in the toilets.”
“I always want to promote the talent of my colleagues in their work, so I never miss the occasion to talk about the good work of my colleagues.”
“Touched base every day with a colleague struggling with her mental health so that she could talk through the day and feel that it was manageable.”
As these responses show, kindness in the workplace can take many forms, but it always has a hugely positive impact on people’s lives. In some cases, kindness can come in the form of patience when a person is new in their role. It can mean being there to offer help, support and advice when someone is unsure of what to do, or simply listening to them when they need to be heard.
Kindness can come in the form of generosity, too – whether by buying someone a drink, or remembering their birthday with a card. Sometimes it means being generous with your time, and dedicating part of your schedule to helping someone out. Other times, you can offer generosity of spirit, and be there to cheer people up when they are down.
When tragedy strikes, kindness comes in the form of a shoulder to cry on, or a simple message saying ‘thinking of you.’ It shows the person that you care, and that you understand what they are going through. Sometimes that’s all it takes to make work a better, more human place.
So next time you go to work, remember that you have a responsibility to be kind. Remember that your actions matter. If you want to work in an environment where people are open, warm, patient and considerate, act in a way that makes it so.