Why It’s Time for Kindness in the Workplace

Photo by    Sandrachile

Photo by Sandrachile

“Do you wish to rise? Begin by descending. You plan a tower that will pierce the clouds? Lay first the foundation of humility.”

 - Saint Augustine

Be Kind. It is the new mantra and each day we try hard to do kind things for others -- family, friends, and strangers we meet on the street.  But it seems to be more challenging to practice this value in the workplace. 

And it’s easy to understand why. After all, dealing with stress while working on a deadline, working with colleagues who aren’t doing their perceived fair share, or reporting to bosses who aren’t so nice can make work life challenging.   

Taking these workplace challenges a step further, Steven Covey, one of the classic leadership gurus, describes the following behaviors which are not reflective of kindness or trust. These include:

·         Deceiving others  -- to position yourself better

·         Showing respect for some colleagues and not others

·         Hidden agendas or objectives, not being honest or authentic

·         Blaming others for mistakes

·         Taking all the credit when the work or project was shared with others

·         Speaking  first and listening  last-- or pretending to listen

·         Breaking  commitments or violating promises

·         Withholding  trust

The solution lies in some very simple and mindful practices you can use every day at work:

1.       Talk straight with transparency

2.       Demonstrate respect and inclusivity for all, regardless of racial ethnic, gender, gender preference, age or ability

3.       Admit and try to right wrongs

4.       Show loyalty

5.       Listen first

6.       Keep commitments

7.       Give the benefit of the doubt… or assume good intent

8.       Smile, even when work is intense

9.       Offer help without expecting anything back

In a connected world where people depend more on more on recommendations and referrals from friends and their social network, trust and kindness evolve as  “uber” qualities. Kindness and trust matters and rises to the top, particularly for Benefit Companies and Corporations, whose sincerity,  transparency and authentic caring  helps attract customers and ultimately profit. We believe the Conscientious Leaders of Benefit Corporations we have met demonstrate and earn the trust of both employees and customers each day. It’s clearly a part of their DNA.

Finally, let’s talk about workplace kindness in the context of humility vs the ego.

Our society teaches us to be confident, bold, assertive, powerful. Humility asks us to moderate this direction by being humble. This means not always demanding air time for your own ideas, or to consider them always the best or right ideas. The ego, the antithesis of kindness, assumes you know more than others and demand their deference to you.  On the other hand, humility, an integral part of kindness, means to listen first, and to believe that the best answer is one generated with others

Kindness is to us like the Golden Rule.  It is one of those principles lacking in many organizations today and is why it is refreshing to see Benefit companies embrace this concept.

Without it we cannot create communities and teams that work together

Without it there is no connection between the company and customer.

Without it, we believe our businesses are endangered.

Here’s to putting Soul into Business…through kindness.




MaryAnne Harmer