Not long ago, I returned home from an uncharacteristically trying day at the office. After venting about my problems for longer than would be considered normal in my home, my wife paused and, with a sharp glance, asked, “Do you curse this much at work?”
The fact was, although I don’t often use profanity in the average conversation, I had been using it a lot more at work, and it was trickling down into the rest of my discussions. Why?
Many stereotypes or tropes exist, both in reality and in fiction. One very popular theme we’re exposed to almost every day is that the loudest get noticed. Think about every television or movie bully you’ve seen? Usually, he or she is outspoken, opinionated, and surrounded by adoring followers. He or she may even seem like the hero at one point in the story, garnering the affection of those who ought to know better.
The same is sometimes true at work. The loudest seem to get all the awards and promotions. They seem to have lots of friends. They seem to have it all together. And so, in our attempt to get ahead in our careers, we can make the misstep of trying to mimic their more outspoken characteristics. You can see this through mildly inappropriate joke-telling, gossiping about others, and, like I discovered with the help of my wife, an over-abundance of profanity, mostly when it’s uncalled for.
The work world needs an infusion of kindness.
It’s easy to be the bombast in a situation; all you have to do is get louder than normal. It’s much more difficult to be kind. Kindness takes an investment of time and energy to understand your co-workers and consider actions that might make their lives better. If you’re looking for more creative ways to exercise kindness at the workplace, consider the following as thought starters.
Write a Thank You Note
This one’s a slam dunk, and something practiced by many salespeople. Handwritten notes carry with them a sense of importance and urgency. And, not many people write or receive actual thank you notes these days.
Give a Compliment
Believe it or not, complimenting a co-worker can be much harder than it sounds. Not only do you need to know your co-workers well enough to understand the kinds of compliments that will be considered acceptable, you also have to consider things like tact, timing, and workplace appropriateness. With that recognition, however, a compliment can change someone’s day from bad to great.
Make a Public Shout Out
At my office, shout-outs are a part of our daily vocabulary. We give shout outs in front of the entire company for people who go out of their way to practice our mission and vision with others. And, even though this is a pretty normal activity, it still surprises me just how many people are truly touched when they receive a shout out from a peer.
Smile, When You Can
No matter what the research says about smiling (and believe me, it says a lot of good things), it just doesn’t come naturally to everyone. If you want to experience more smile-generating happiness at work—or help those around you feel the same—the best way to turn frowns upside-down is to get to know your co-workers (and what makes them chuckle). The more you know, the better you’ll be able to converse on that person’s wavelength and the more comfortable your co-worker will be with you around. All of this can lead not just to a smile, but a genuine sense of happiness with you and with your place of work.
Of course, all of this is meant to be experimental. Give yourself a gift and take the opportunity to learn how one or all of these tactics can be the starting point for greater learning about your co-workers. Hopefully, you can be the hidden ninja catalyst for revamping your organization through kindness.