Frequently, kindness is often considered a sign of weakness especially in the serious business world. As professional people we don’t want to show weakness, especially when competition for promotional opportunities or desire to climb the career ladder is so great and kindness is always seen as a “fluffy” subject and can appear to affect our chances of being successful. Everyone knows you can’t be a successful professional in business by being a doormat, fortunately though, practicing kindness at work has absolutely nothing to do with being a doormat and everything to do with showing great courage and strength.
Thousands of pounds are spent each year on self-help books on a range of subjects from making us healthier, being more popular, even becoming wealthy, but not many people rush out to purchase a book on how we can be kinder. From a very young age, my great grandmother always said that kindness was one of the best gifts that people can give, and in a world filled with enough negativity to last a lifetime, why not change our own perspectives and just be kinder?
Kindness is the key component to a healthy, successful, and well-balanced life. These elements are all essential to our overall wellbeing and kindness is something that we do because we can, not because we should or are obligated to.
HR acts of kindness
Having worked with all walks of life as an HR professional, I have always recognised that there are extraordinary benefits of kindness at work and one theme that has always shone through is how people respond to kindness, so in 2016 (after the Brexit result) I decided that my mission was to encourage kindness in the workplace, where people would feel welcome, valued and supported.
Creating kindness cultures
Being kind isn’t a new thing, but it is too often overlooked when in fact it can be one of the most powerful tools that we each possess, so by encouraging kindness, it can become an everyday norm which can positively impact all areas of our lives including our workplaces which is not often associated with kindness. So why and how can kindness impact upon a person’s happiness at work? Kindness can promote and create a sense of gratitude, compassion and empathy as we are more in tune to those around us. At work, especially those in Management and Senior Managerial positions, being able to fully understand our people in these areas is essential to ensuring that employees are healthy, motivated and engaged.
The key to success
When we think of successful people; kindness isn’t normally the first word that we typically associate with them, for example, look at television shows such as The Apprentice and The Good Wife, you will notice that there aren’t many characters with kind personalities that get ahead! However, in the real business world, kindness is a tool that can improve job performance, keep our good employees, reduce absence and most of all, make our workplaces a happier place to be!
Practicing kindness in business
Being a serious business professional doesn’t mean that you are unable to practice kindness at work, there are ways in which you can be assertively kind. One of the biggest benefits of kindness, is that it builds trust with those we work with and that helps the development of meaningful and lasting relationships. Business professionals that get ahead in their careers by highlighting the flaws in others don’t tend to last because their employees and colleagues are not as engaged. In toxic workplace cultures where negative behaviours are the everyday norm, this is an environment full of distrust, and as a result those employees are unlikely to be motivated or perform to the best of their abilities. It is important to remember that building trust takes a long time, but it only takes a moment to destroy it.
Kindness is Contagious
Once I had started practicing kindness regularly, it didn’t take long to see that kindness is very contagious! It is important to keep in mind that we are not being kind in the hope that it will change people, we are being kind because that is who we are.
I bought a coffee for a homeless person on my lunchbreak during the cold snap earlier this year and noticed that others were watching what I was doing, and a little girl then offered him one of her sweets, as children we are always told to be kind to others, so why as adults does it seem so difficult to make time to be kind to others? When other people witness acts of kindness happening, it is almost like a magic we don’t see every day, yet it is all something that we can do that costs very little. It encourages those around us to give an act of kindness of their own which provides them with a sense of well-being.
Stay away negativity!
Save your energy! By investing time in negative cultures or situations, this only becomes an energy sapping vicious circle. Negativity only creates more negativity in our lives that makes us unhappy. By not giving your valuable time to negativity, you are able to spend more time being kind and creating joy. At work, wouldn’t you rather promote someone who is positive and motivated or someone who is negative and disengaged?
How to be intentionally kind
We often feel that one small action may not make a big difference and this is especially the case at work, but once you start making kindness a part of your everyday routine you’ll quickly see the impact it has on you and others around you and understand that an act of kindness, no matter how small can have profound effect. It is obvious that our society struggles with selfishness and indifference and it is easy to get sucked into that. True success and happiness begins with us recognising that we can positively respond to every situation with kindness to promote the environment that we wish to be a part of.
Simple acts of kindness that we can achieve at work are:
- Make a tea or coffee for a colleague who may not have had a chance to get away from their desk
- Actively listen and offer support when you can
- Acknowledge colleagues’ contributions
- Hold open the door and thank someone when they do the same for you
- Take a break! Encourage colleagues to get away from their desk and take a proper break, this can make all the difference especially when it comes to productivity!
By bringing kindness into our workplaces, we can encourage a positive workplace culture for everyone to enjoy. As with HR acts of kindness, perhaps you may want to consider joining in or even starting your own kindness revolution at your workplace! All it takes is the courage to be kind.