5 ways to be kind to your colleagues

browningyork General communication, Inspiration, Organisational culture, Story-telling

I believe in the power of kindness.

Of doing things that make other people smile, that make them feel better. Even if that’s only for a brief while.

And this year I’m making it my mission to talk more about kindness and to share stories of kindness as much as I can.

Kindness in the workplace
Times are hard, we all know that, and different people are facing different challenges. This week I’m sharing ideas for how you can be kind to your colleagues.

There are lots of things you can do for your colleagues to help make their day better and bring them a smile. You can make grand gestures, but small kindnesses also go a long way. Whatever you choose to do, you will be communicating that you care. And that’s really important.

As well as being a good thing for individuals, treating our colleagues well is good for our organisations too. Reasons include:

  • It helps people to feel connected and so they work together more effectively.
  • People who feel more connected to their colleagues will also look for connections to the individuals and communities you work with.
  • If people feel more upbeat, they will also feel more motivated to do their job.

Small (and big) things that make a big difference
I asked my network to tell me their stories of workplace kindness. There were lots of brilliant examples and I’m sharing those ideas here, in five broad areas.

  1. Listening and remembering

There is something really positive about knowing someone really listened to you and heard what you said. And showing you cared enough to remember something about them as a person goes a long way too.

“I always appreciate it when my manager or colleagues remember a personal fact about me and ask about it (just in conversation not in a contrived way which could be weird) – like a family member’s name or something you did at the weekend – it shows they listen and care. I try to do the same”

“When you are on break use the time to talk to them [your colleague] about their hobbies or something just to give their minds that break it needs to be able to refocus on the task they have at hand.”

“When someone drops me a text to check in or to pick up on something mentioned previously it really makes my day. Most recently a colleague dropped me a text to wish me luck and it gave me such a lift :)”

2. Checking in

It can be easy to get caught up in conversations about the day-to-day job, especially in the high-pressured environment we are all operating in right now. So it’s kind to check in with someone to see how they are, as a person, before ploughing straight into the operational detail.

“When someone asks how you are in a 1 to 1 and won’t take ‘fine thanks’ for an answer!”

“[I value] people who check in to see how I am, properly listen to the answer and not always offer solutions. Sometimes you just need to let go (or rant!)”

“For me, it’s about acknowledging the person behind the professional, and that’s the one positive thing I think the pandemic has helped to do – breaking down those boundaries between work and personal life, and making people acknowledge that people have families, pets, and other demands and challenges that will impact their working day, their morale and their mood.”

3. Appreciation and thanks

A heart-felt thank you can really make someone’s day. You might think it’s obvious that you value them, but hearing the words carries a lot of weight. If you appreciate something about your colleague or their work, tell them!

“I’m enjoying appreciations at the end of thinking environment meetings. Each person appreciates one thing about the person next to them (we go round a virtual circle!). No judgement or comments are made. So everyone leaves with a kind appreciation of their qualities. Very powerful.”

“I remember a speaker talking about at Christmas she writes tags for each team member about something she appreciates about them and I thought it was so lovely it stayed with me.”

“[It’s great when] people say a simple thank you.”

4. Practical support

This type of kindness might have adapted more than others during lock-down, if you are working at home or in a different space from your colleagues. But helping them with their workload is a great way to offer that assistance from a distance.

“Simple gestures like making you a cup of coffee or tea without asking, bringing in cake or biscuits.”

“If you see that their work pile is too much, help them to get it done so that the load on their shoulders can lower a bit.”

5. Unexpected gifts

Although this isn’t an area that I would recommend throwing money at, a small, well-thought-out gift can make a huge difference and really make your colleagues smile. It’s not about the financial value, it’s about showing you care.

“Best one was finding a rainbow themed crocheted mini-Christmas stocking on my office door once.”

“A simple thing, but I came into work on Weds and our head of finance had left a glorious vase of daffodils in the office which was an instant pick me up.”

“I love to spot things when I’m grabbing lunch and leave it on someone’s desk – a bag of crisps or chocolate bar I know they like – or to share info and articles I have seen about something I know they are interested or passionate about – usually not work related.”

In summary
There are so many ways to be kind to your colleagues and communicate that they are not alone. You might not even notice how much of a difference your gesture has made. But it is worth taking the time do something.

What are your stories of workplace kindness? I’d love to hear them. I am setting up an Instagram page to share these stories – time_for_kindness

Until next time

Sarah