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The importance of being kind

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Yesterday, I saw a post on my Facebook feed about a friend of a friend who just found out that her five-year-old son has an inoperable brain tumor. A woman I work with was rushed to the hospital this week and ended up delivering her baby three months early. An employee who works for my husband lost his sister to alcoholism on Wednesday and found out his mom who has Alzheimer’s is moving in with him. And this Sunday, I’ll be attending the funeral of my friend’s husband, who recently died of COVID-19 pneumonia. Each one of these stories is heartbreaking and made me pause to think about how little we really know about the lives of other people we interact with on a daily basis. On any given day, anyone we encounter could be dealing with burdens we aren’t aware of or don’t understand.

Now, more than ever, it’s important to be kind. Coming out of the pandemic, the number of people dealing with mental health issues is at an all-time high. Navigating life’s unexpected events in a normal year can be trying for anyone, and now each of us is shouldering the added trauma of the pandemic.

At work, the all-Zoom-all-the-time work environment hasn’t exactly helped us establish the same bonds with our coworkers as if we were all face-to-face. It’s easy to type a snarky comment in chat or roll our eyes off-camera – things we wouldn’t be as likely to do in an office meeting. Collaborating remotely has several unique challenges, often leading to miscommunication and misinterpretation. 

Taking the time to practice intentional kindness can swing the pendulum in someone’s day. Kindness is contagious, brings people together, and improves the quality of life in the workplace. It creates a ripple effect that can positively influence your entire work culture. You may never know how big of an impact one small act of kindness can have. Even if you think of yourself as a generally kind person, there’s no time like today to intentionally practice a few ideas for being kind at work:

  • Help a co-worker with a deadline.
  • Send an unexpected thank you email to someone.
  • Ask “How are you?”
  • Ask “How can I help?”
  • Smile. (Spreading joy is an act of kindness.)
  • Don’t start or contribute to the rumor mill.
  • Don’t initiate or respond to unkind chats.
  • Be a cheerleader for a colleague’s ideas.
  • Introduce yourself to new employees. Offer to help them with something you wanted to know when you were new on the job.
  • Don’t make it a habit to complain about a coworker to others.
  • Take the time to challenge the narrative of what you believe to be true about another person.
  • Wish a co-worker a happy birthday.
  • Accept and welcome difference (in opinions, lifestyles, and backgrounds).

Perhaps most importantly, remind yourself daily that you probably have no idea about what’s really going on in another person’s life – making it even more important to be kind.  As Maya Angelou famously said, “People may not remember what you said, or what you did, but they will always remember how you made them feel.”

At WAHVE, we value and practice a culture of kindness and inclusion, no matter who we work with or where we work. As we continue to look ahead to the future, we’re certain that we can’t go wrong by putting our employees first and treating everyone with dignity, respect – and kindness.

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