World Kindness Day in the workplace
What wisdom can you find that is greater than kindness?
- Jean Jacques Rousseau
Friday 13 November 2015 is World Kindness Day. This day is part of a World Kindness Movement (WKM) that started at a conference in Japan almost 20 years ago.
The mission of the WKM is "to inspire individuals towards greater kindness and to connect nations to create a kinder world".
This is the WKM on a macro level - changing the world. We can, however, all make a difference by practising kindness every day and on this day, consciously practising kindess in the workplace. Imagine if we could change the world by changing one workplace at a time.
Kindness does not have to be a grand gesture. Nor does is have to cost money. Kindness can be a small gesture, genuinely made. Some of the simplest acts of kindness in the workplace are:
- holding a door open
- offering to make someone a cup of tea
- answering someone's phone and taking a message
- offering to get extra materials from the stationery room
- keeping the lift doors open when you see someone rushing to catch the lift
- remembering colleague's birthdays and acknowledging them
- taking an interest in peoples' interests
- showing genuine empathy to someone who is upset
Empathy is one of the best character traits to have - it makes the practice of kindness easy. And authentic. Practising kindness because you 'have to' is emotionally exhausting. Authenticity is essential.
The really good news about kindness, however is twofold. First, is that is is contagious. We take our cues from other people. When we witness or experience someone showing us kindness, we experience something called moral elevation - an emotion we experience after witnessing an act of kindness, compassion, understanding or forgiveness. We are more likely to be kind and helpful ourselves in that state. If leaders show kindness, their employees are also more likely to do so.
Secondly, practising kindness gives another person the opportunity to express gratitude, a very underrated virtue. In turn, having someone say 'thank you' gives us a good feeling and also increases the well being of the person expressing it.
When you think about it, kindness creates a giant warm circle of happiness. What's not to like?