It’s no secret: The business world can be cold. The greater the competition, the higher the stress, and the tighter the budgets, the more we feel it. Job demands expand, the pace increases, and the time for building relationships shrinks. At least, that’s how it seems.
High workloads get us to hunker down, tune out distractions, and grind out our work. The job gets to be all about us when the pressure’s on. We tend to block out our coworkers, customers, and sometimes even the boss when the heat’s on.
Work can either separate us or bring us together. It’s our choice.
A lot of negative things can happen when we let the work consume us. We often:
- Find fault with coworkers and criticize their contributions
- Dismiss questions and keep people at arm’s length
- Become impatient with indecision by the boss, coworkers, and customers
- Treat complaints as interruptions rather than insights
- Act rudely or miss opportunities to provide great service
- Neglect the needs of others who rely on us
There are plenty of companies with policies and practices that don’t make their employees feel valued. But that isn’t the majority.
We’re the ones who humanize our workplace. The way we treat the people in our paths every day creates the work environment.
I know that you’ve met people at work who always:
- Have a smile
- Find something upbeat to say
- Perform an unexpected act of kindness
- Pitch in when you’re struggling
- Laugh at their own mistakes
They act this way with everyone. You and I can and should do this too. Think of the difference that we’d make. Then imagine how it would be if everyone around us did that too!
So, what about our coworkers?
Most everyone we work with lives a life with burdens. Few of us are immune. Some bear heavier challenges than we do; some less. Some carry their burdens more easily than others. But all of us, at some time, need a lift!
That means we are never without an opportunity to lighten someone’s load. I don’t mean engaging in protracted conversations or becoming a confidant. That’s not appropriate at work.
Instead, it’s about taking a moment to acknowledge a need or to express support. Most of the time, all we need is to be noticed, valued, and validated. It’s simply about kindness!
A lot of good feeling came my way when I:
- Engaged in grateful conversation with a new customer who, I learned, had just returned from Ground Zero a month after 9/11 where he’d volunteered his time as a forensic dentist identifying victims
- Took a little time to talk to a disheveled customer whom others shunned because of his appearance and awkward manner
- Praised the work of my support staff, encouraging their interest in learning new skills and helping them feel positive about themselves
- Showed patience with employees when things went awry, said funny things to break tension, always looked for the upside, and helped keep things in perspective
These actions don’t compromise productivity, even when it’s crunch time. They are simply small gestures of humanity and kindness that ultimately energize people, creating a climate conducive to getting more work done right.
The concept of “paying it forward” applies to the way we treat others. We need to remember how it felt when someone was kind to us and give that gift to someone else.
We make the difference!
Leading by example includes the way we interact with the people around us. Anyone of us can brighten a dark climate at work. We just have to want to. No one can stop us from being kind, warm, optimistic, and caring. Our business fitness reflects our ability to bring a genuine regard for others to the workplace. Spreading a spirit of kindness creates a powerful legacy! Please let that be yours.
Do you have a story where an act of kindness at work made a difference? What more can we do to humanize the workplace? Thanks.