“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” —Philo of Alexandria
As humans, we are naturally hardwired for kindness: it helps us work together and build communities to survive. It can be difficult to be kind when you are stressed out, overwhelmed, or exhausted. How do you experience kindness in the workplace under these circumstances?
It’s important to practice self-kindness. I wrote about this in my last post, here. It also helps to have friends at work.
While some argue that friendships between a leader and an employee are near impossible, I contest that it’s worth the effort. You can ensure your coworkers’ well-being through professional kindness and compassion with clear boundaries.
When this topic comes up in my coaching conversations, we discuss the skills and emotional courage needed and the need to avoid the formation (or reputation) of an exclusive clique. For leaders and managers, I recommend the practice of mindful kindness.
Practice Mindful Kindness
There are two components of mindful kindness:
- Consideration and action regarding the social conditions, practices, and policies that prevent employees from finding the good in human nature.
- Random acts of kindness conducted in mindful ways that are sensitive, inclusive, and equitable.
Both of these components focus on treating everyone with mutual care and respect:
- Practice honesty with consideration. Brutal feedback is not kind. Be clear, direct, and compassionate.
- Show you care with unconditional acceptance. While you might not like or accept certain behavior, separate the action from the person.
- Step through fear to do what is right, right now. Be courageous, and practice justice and compassion for all.
- Welcome others into your circle. Extend kindness to everyone; grow your circle of friends.
Even the smallest acts of mindful kindness can go a long way, especially under the microscopic gaze of others. While the biochemical boost is powerful, research has found it only lasts three to four minutes. That’s why it’s so important to make kindness an ongoing practice.