It’s easy to think of the workplace as a professional space that doesn’t have room for personal interactions or friendships. In fact, some companies and experts will say that you should avoid becoming too friendly with co-workers as it can lead to internal drama.
However, making the workspace some impersonal atmosphere that doesn’t encourage friendly attitudes and kindness can also turn the office into a depressing place no one really wants to go to; which can hurt productivity and happiness in the long run and hurt your company culture.
So how can you be kind to co-workers while remaining professional?
Don’t put up with petty criticism
Everyone hates criticism that isn’t productive or relevant to performance. Criticising someone’s hair, their makeup, car, or choice of dress can quickly lead to bitterness between co-workers--especially if the person being criticised overhears or is told directly to their face.
The best way to avoid situations such as this? Don’t participate. When a co-worker starts to deliver harsh, inappropriate criticism about another person either behind their back or to their face, don’t be afraid to tell that person to ease up. Comments such as "Let’s be more positive," or "Let’s focus on work, not attire." While you shouldn’t put up with negative words towards someone else, don’t deliver negative words in the process.
Lead by example
Professionals, especially those new to the workplace, often take mental and physical cues from their co-workers to determine what kind of behavior (such as humor) is acceptable in the company culture. Since each company varies in personality, it’s important to show co-workers a positive experience by creating and encouraging a positive environment.
Be kind and courteous to everyone in your environment, even if you aren’t their biggest fan. By engaging in kind behavior, you’re encouraging it in the workplace and giving others an example to follow. Promote kindness by being kind!
Be warm and welcoming
Everyone has a first day at work. When new employees are hired at your company, don’t engage in that high school clique behavior and exclude them from the lunch table. Instead, invite them out or stop by their desk a few times throughout the day to see how they’re doing. Most of the time, new employees will welcome the opportunity to talk to new co-workers and get in on a friendly lunch.
Applaud strengths in co-workers
We all know that in most workplaces, you’re rarely applauded for the things you do right, but you’ll never hear the end of it when you do something wrong. Reverse this behavior by taking small steps to acknowledge someone’s strengths; for example, if a co-worker delivers their part of a project on time, thank them for their hard work and timeliness. Add to the statement by saying you admire how timely that co-worker is.
Pointing out the strengths in others is a quick way to give anyone an instant confidence boost. You never know, you might brighten a terrible day in the process.
Involve the entire company in kindness
If your company is made up of different departments, make an active effort to be kind and include everyone. While it can seem like a difficult task to get to know co-workers who don’t work in your department, reaching out and encouraging kindness towards other departments is a great way to end any intra-company drama or department wars.
You may also end up starting a kindness revolution in another department!
Kindness is not difficult. But if you have co-workers (in both your department or in another) that often grate on your nerves or have trouble getting work done, it can be difficult to find the patience to be kind. Remember, however, that each of your co-workers has a life outside of the office, and everyone has their own burdens to bear. Don’t add to what may already be a heavy load by encouraging negativity in the office. Make an active effort to be kind--everyone has their own problems to deal with.