Making Kindness at Work a Way of Life

Making Kindness at Work a Way of Life

09/10/18 Laura Gibbons

It’s crazy to think just how unkind we can be to our co-workers. After all, if you are all working in the same place, even if you might be in different departments, you are essentially on the same team. You are all working toward the same goals. The in-fighting and just general nastiness or indifference for one another that can pop up in workplaces affects everyone negatively. It breaks us down as individuals and as teams. It is impossible to think that our lack of kindness doesn’t affect the work environment.

Lead by example. If you are the leader at your organization, you need to heed the call. Tell your team that you are making kindness a focus. Give your permission for someone to call you on it when you forget your pledge! Note that if a lack of kindness has been a problem at your organization for a while, you might have to slowly introduce the practice. Try one kindness initiative at a time – for example, regularly saying thank you or offering to help a co-worker at least once a day.

Put an end to petty criticism. We criticize just about everybody and everything. We scrutinize every little word and laugh at each other’s mistakes. I think too many of us slip into negativity as a default behavior at work. We hear others being negative so we join in to stay out of the crossfire. We all need to remind ourselves to stay out of that negativity and instead be kind, nice, and thoughtful.

Welcome new employees with open arms. Often it’s the new guy who gets the most abuse at work. It’s interesting that organizations can be short-staffed with everyone putting in extra time and effort, just praying the boss hires someone to lessen the burden, and then when the new guy does start, he is welcomed with less than open arms. Try to remember what it was like on your first day. Then extend a little kindness the new person’s way. Ask him about himself, his family, background, etc. Try to find things that he has in common with other team members. Sharing common experiences is a great way to bring someone into the fold.

Recognize one another’s strengths, not weaknesses. In many workplaces, kindness goes out the door when younger and older employees must work together. Young employees get frustrated when their older colleagues can’t use the latest technology quickly and efficiently. And older workers become frustrated with their younger counterparts’ different work ethic. The problem is that the parties on both sides of the age gap are focusing on what they view as the other’s weakness. Leaders should encourage all of their employees to value what their teammates bring to the table. Remind everyone that there is a reason each of them was hired.

Source: Liz Jazwiec, a nationally renowned speaker, strategist, and consultant, is the author of the book, “Eat That Cookie! Make Workplace Positivity Pay Off … For Individuals, Teams and Organizations.” For more information, visit Article featured in the EA Report Brown Bagger of the Employee Assistance Report, Volume 21, No. 7, July 2018. (

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