The other day, I was talking with the head of learning and development at a major, multi-national organization. We were discussing the idea I had for a program to practice kindness in the workplace when he asked “Why would you want to create a program for kindness at work? Wouldn’t it be better to focus on children instead? Then they would become kind adults! Don’t you think it’s too late once people reach adulthood and go to work?” I was quite surprised by his question, and, actually, I disagree that we should focus first on teaching kindness to children Why? Because adults are the ones who role model and teach children everything they know! Including kindness! And where do adults spend most of their waking life??? At work!! So, if you ask me, work is one of the best places to focus on (and practice) kindness! If you’re an organization (or work in one) focusing on, and practicing, kindness is easy! And to make it even easier, I’ve created these 5 Easy Steps to a Kinder Workplace!

  1. Remember, people aren’t perfect…That includes both customers, and those who serve them! And they don’t need to be! So, when they make mistakes, be kind to them! You make mistakes too!
  2. Assume ‘positive intent’ 99% of people come to work to do the best job possible, in the best way possible! However, all sorts of problems occur that prevent them from doing so…why!? Because they aren’t perfect! So, assume positive intent!
  3. Think about – and speak about – your customers – and colleagues – in ‘human’ ‘terms’ We have a tendency to talk about our customers and colleagues using non-human words…(New accounts, tickets…HR department…Sales Zone 3…to name a few) and that turns them into ‘things’. And when we think of our very human, imperfect customers as ‘inhuman ‘things’ like numbers, it’s easy to forget to be kind!
  4. Put yourself in your customers’…and colleagues’…shoes…!! When you need to make a decision about what to do, please ‘decide ‘kindly’ by thinking about how you would feel if the situation was happening to you! If you wouldn’t like to be treated in a certain way…your customer, and colleague…probably wouldn’t think it’s kind either!
  5. Remember, service means putting the needs of others’ before your own! It’s easy to think of ourselves – and how things affect US – first! Humans have big egos! (Maybe one of our imperfections?) Oftentimes, kindness means putting others needs before our own! For example, letting someone else go first! Letting someone else have their say…and listening without interrupting and/or disagreeing! Doing what’s best for a customer even if it might be inconvenient for us!

Knowing the 5 Easy Steps to a Kinder Workplace is a great start, but your workplace won’t becomes kinder without putting the steps into deliberate – and daily – practice! What does that mean? Deliberate means we choose one of these focus areas each day, and dedicate time to practicing it!
Example: Monday: People aren’t perfect

  • Practice: Every time a customer or colleague makes an error, instead of being frustrated and complaining, go and ask how you could help them!
  • Start with doing this one time a day, and build up to more!
  • Remember, deliberate practice helps us build habits!

As you can see, focusing on, and practicing, kindness isn’t just for children! It’s for everyone! And when you deliberately practice kindness in the workplace, not only will you create a kinder workplace for your customers and your team, but people will take what they learn and experience home: to their children and families, to their communities, cities, and country. And that will make a kinder world for all of us! Karyn