In Corporate America, can you really be a sharp, savvy, ambitious businessperson, and still be kind? It’s a question that many of us grapple with these days. “Kindness in the workplace” may seem like an oxymoron; “ruthless, driven, aggressive” may be terms we’re more used to associating with our work-selves. Americans easily spend upwards of 50 hours a week at work, giving that statistic the dubious honor of being one of the highest in the world. Consider that compared to how much weekly time we have left to do other things like, I don’t know, spend time with our families or indulge in a little R&R.
When framed by this perspective, how can we NOT afford to show kindness to others in the workplace? For better or worse, that’s where the majority of our lives are unfolding. Showing kindness does not have to signal weakness, unproductiveness, or lack of ambition. Kindness – once people realize that it does not mean being a pushover – can be a profoundly motivating force. Creating a “kindness culture” can bring just as good results as fear or intimidation, and probably more sustainable growth. And by displaying positive types of emotions like kindness, you can also differentiate yourself from some of the haters you may find in within your organization.
Not sure how to kickoff the kindness? Here are a few suggestions of small ways to start:
1. Bring co-workers a special treat: Small surprises and tokens of appreciation throughout the year help people in the office feel valued all year long. Popping out for a coffee? Pick up an extra one for your colleague. Buying some stocking stuffers for your family? Grab one or two fun items and give them around the office – people will definitely appreciate the gesture.
2. Email a compliment: We so rarely hear about the things we’re doing well at work, most likely because the expectation is that we do a good job. So the next time you send an email to someone you work with, add a compliment. Acknowledging hard work, successes and other accomplishments boosts confidence and attitudes in the office.
3. Praise your co-workers: It’s always kind to thank your co-workers when they do something nice or offer their support. You can really go the extra mile when you acknowledge something that doesn’t necessarily impact you. Recognizing others for their achievements builds confidence and goodwill among all office mates.
So in honor of World Kindness Day, try bringing some kindness into your office. It can impact the quality of your professional life, strengthen your interactions, help to build stronger business relationships, and just may make all those hours spent in the workplace a little more enjoyable. As Aesop said, “No act of kindness, not matter how small, is ever wasted.”