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Make Kindness The Norm

Right now, we’re experiencing a greater emphasis on virtual working. All types of teams are moving to digital platforms, and in doing so are translating in-person working relationships to virtual experiences.

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In a time where virtual working is the norm, it’s important to remember kindness is key.

While working virtually, it may feel harder or more stressful to get things done, as we’re balancing new and different priorities and, for some, learning how to navigate this new way of working. Often when stressed, we can get impatient. Sound familiar? While we need to stop and plan what needs to be accomplished, it’s also critically important to think, “How do I want to do this?” Being apart from each other can feel isolating, which is why it’s even more important to hold ourselves accountable for showing kindness to others.

It may seem simple enough, but sometimes in our world it doesn’t feel like kindness is the norm. Well, it should be. For one thing, it makes us happier. It’s true – a recent study measured the effects of doing nice things for oneself (going for a walk, listening to your favorite podcast, etc), versus doing nice things for other people (sending praise to a colleague on your team, calling to check in on an old friend, etc). The study found that pro-social behavior led to greater happiness and emotional well-being than self-focused behavior. Another study measured how happy participants were in the morning and then gave them each $20 to spend – either on themselves, or others. It then measured happiness levels of the participants in the evening and found that those who spent money on other people exhibited greater levels of happiness.

When you consider the effect on those who you are showing kindness to – the impact is even greater. In short, it puts good out into the world. And when we all act with kindness, it can become contagious. In the work environment, this can be particularly true. Taking the time to help a colleague, lend an empathetic ear, or treat your teammate to a coffee delivery helps to create not just feelings of well-being, but a culture of kindness.

But as many say, we’re all so busy! Is it hard to find the time or the energy to show kindness? It shouldn’t be. Here are a few easy tips to show kindness in your working life:

1. Compliment people: Reach out to colleagues to congratulate them when things go well. Did someone in your team put together a great presentation? Were you impressed by how someone handled a difficult situation? Let them know. Mention it when you’re next talking, or take two minutes to send a note. It doesn’t take much, but can be really gratifying for that person.

2. Be generous: You don’t need to buy gifts for your coworkers to show generosity. Nor should you have to. Just be generous with your time. We all need help during the working day – people to bounce ideas off, to listen as we talk something through, to proofread or help crunch numbers. While you might be busy, setting time aside to help out a colleague could mean a lot to them. And, of course, they’ll be more likely to help you out the next time you need a helping hand.

3. Get to know the people you work with: We all have lives outside of work. Whether that revolves around family, a hobby, friends, or pursuing a goal, there are things that matter to us – and when someone shows an interest in those things, it feels good. Also, there are times when life is not going so well, and having people be aware and show compassion makes a huge difference. But you can’t show that sort of kindness if you don’t know the people who you work with in the first place. So build those relationships, ask questions, and let them know that you value them as a coworker and a person. Wouldn’t you want others to treat you that way?

We all have the capacity to show more kindness – and the positive effects are immeasurable. In the words of Aesop, “No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.” It is profoundly enriching, and we all benefit.