We grow up being taught to say “please” and “thank you.” To be kind and polite to our friends. To treat them how we want to be treated. To help them. To share with them. To always say “hello” and “goodbye.” And then as we get a little older, to give up our seat to the elderly or a pregnant woman. To let the person in line behind us at the grocery store with only one item go ahead of us. We are raised to have empathy. To be aware of others around us and to be sensitive to their feelings. To be kind and gentle and true and compassionate. And mostly, to be selfless.
Yet, as adults, many of us don’t live by these rules. Sadly, we seem to be more “me” focused – consumed with thoughts and actions that benefit only ourselves. We cut people off in traffic. We race for the empty parking spot. We bury ourselves in our phones instead of being present with our friends or family. We are too busy to care about other people around us. In essence, we forget to behave with the same basic kindness that we emphasize to our own kids. Basically, we don’t say “please” and “thank you.” And we don’t seem to have a problem with it. Trust me – there are plenty of times I am guilty of this, too.
Unfortunately, this rolls over into the workplace as well. We get so caught up in ourselves, in what we need to get done, in what we have to do to get ahead, in how to make us stand out and get noticed above someone else, that we oftentimes forget we are all here to work together as a team. To create great things so our clients are happy, and in turn, so our bosses are happy. Yet, occasionally we go through our workdays just doing what’s best for ourselves in that moment. Maybe not even intentionally.
But if you think about it, sometimes all it takes is a simple “yes” to show kindness to others – especially to a teammate at work. As the remarkable Mister Rogers once said, “I hope you’re proud of yourself for the times you’ve said ‘yes,’ when all it meant was extra work for you and was seemingly helpful only to somebody else.”
We’ve all been there, so busy trying to get our own projects done when a co-worker next to us is struggling with an idea or a timeline. Maybe he or she is too proud to ask for help. But you notice and at that exact moment you can do one of two things: 1) ask them if you could be of assistance or 2) pretend you didn’t notice because you have your own deadlines to meet. And when you’re faced with a decision like that, think about what you would instill in your children. What would you want them to do? Or better yet – what would you want your co-worker to do for you if you were in their shoes?
In an article titled ”Is Kindness the Missing Link to Employee Performance?” research and organizational development specialist Dan Schwartz advises workers to “be kind to your fellow employees and commit random acts of kindness to decrease stress in the workplace and increase productivity.”
Kindness is giving – of wanting to help others by providing a helping hand or lending an ear to listen. And yes, studies show it is even good for our well-being. Schwartz continues, “… what many fail to realize is that the one thing that can improve health in the workplace, lower stress, and improve company performance is something that doesn’t require the investment of a company gym or other wellness program. It requires one simple virtue: kindness.”
One of the easiest ways to show kindness at work is to let others know you are grateful for them. Instead of focusing on traits that may irritate you about your coworkers, focus on traits that are positive – let them know how much you appreciated their help on a project, or tell them how well they did at a client presentation. And try to say “thank you” more often. You’d be surprised at just how motivating those two little words can be. When we take the time to show appreciation toward others, it really does make for a nicer work environment.
At the end of the day, what we all want is to be appreciated, respected, and to be shown kindness.
Carrying out acts of kindness is not only the right thing to do, but it would make this world, and any office you are a part of, a better place.
We should all learn and remember the lessons of our youth. Yes, playing and having fun was at the core of our childhood. But more importantly, so was always saying “please” and “thank you.” Just those few simple words can have such an impact on a person.
Remember – kindness is a choice you can make every day. And choosing kindness is easier than you think. So, I leave you with this: Be kind. Be helpful. Be humble. Say “yes” more often. And you may even be surprised to see how much kindness comes back your way in return.
For more ideas on choosing kindness, visit: www.randomactsofkindness.org